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The 10 Worst Bad Boss Behaviors

image for Deagreez / Getty Images
Deagreez / Getty Images
  • It is often said that people do not leave bad jobs – they leave bad bosses.
  • There are several different characteristics that make working for someone a bad experience. Some might just be behaviors that make the environment toxic, and others might be their lack of management in the workplace.
  • From a lack of recognition for hard work to a lack of expectations, there are a variety of ways that a boss can be bad.

Few things play as important a role in your success at work than your boss.

While working for someone you like and respect can make you more committed to your employer, working for someone you dislike and don't respect can have you heading for the door. A study from BambooHR revealed that 44% of professionals have quit their job primarily because of their boss.

"When you have a boss you respect and admire, you are more likely to produce great work and enjoy your job," the study's authors wrote. "But when you have a bad boss, you're much more likely to be upset, unengaged and ready to leave."

The study found that 63% of the employees surveyed said working for someone who takes credit for their work is something they consider a deal-breaker, or at the very least unacceptable. [Want to be a better boss? Here are three ways to make it happen.]

Of those who have left a job because of their boss, nearly 20% said they quit because the person they worked for was taking credit for their work.

"No one wants a work environment in which employees are considering or compelled to leave because of a manager's poor leadership skills," the study's authors wrote. "Employees want to receive recognition for their hard work and want to feel empowered, inspired and cared for."

The research found these top 10 bad boss behaviors:

  1. Your boss takes credit for your work.
  2. Your boss doesn't appear to trust or empower you.
  3. Your boss doesn't seem to care if you're overworked.
  4. Your boss doesn't advocate for you when it comes to monetary compensation (wages, salary, bonuses, etc.).
  5. Your boss hires and/or promotes the wrong people.
  6. Your boss doesn't back you up when there's a dispute between you and one of your company's clients.
  7. Your boss doesn't provide proper direction on assignments/roles.
  8. Your boss micromanages you and doesn't allow you the "freedom to work."
  9. Your boss focuses more on your weaknesses than your strengths.
  10. Your boss doesn't set clear expectations.

These are some other bad behaviors, as cited by LinkedIn:

  • Setting employees up to fail
  • Picking favorites among the office
  • Making false promises
  • Ignoring feedback or questions
  • Not standing up for employees
  • Acting incompetent
  • Not stepping in to offer assistance when help is needed
  • Trying to make friends with employees
  • Abusing in any way, including gossiping, yelling, swearing, name-calling, belittling, using aggressive body language and other rude behaviors that could lead to a toxic work environment
  • Not looking to improve their own management styles

While these behaviors were not among the top 10 in the research provided, they are still toxic and can wreak havoc on a business.

Managers, directors, administrators and officers set the tone in the workplace. When there is a lack of management or a poor display of professional behavior, businesses crumble, turnover increases, and employees do not enjoy coming into the office each day.

In fact, according to a study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, a toxic work environment is associated with seven cardiovascular risk factors.

Of course, bad bosses are not responsible for all of the toxic traits of the office. In some situations, the negative environment could be the result of a poor organizational structure within the company. It could also be from new recruits that do not mesh well with current employees. While bad bosses are not to blame for the entirety of consequences that become of a bad work environment, they can improve themselves in order to make the office a better place to be for all employees.

The BambooHR study also revealed that besides their actions, certain traits push employees to look elsewhere for employment. For those who have left a job because of their manager, these were the top five characteristics of their boss that made them leave:

  1. The management style
  2. A condescending attitude
  3. Meanness or a bad temper
  4. Inappropriate behavior
  5. Harassment of employees

"These results highlight an opportunity for bosses and employers to hone in on the leadership aspects that irk employees the most, and make the necessary steps to retain their best talent and foster a strong company culture," the study's authors wrote. "By developing a culture that promotes positive leadership behaviors at the top, organizations will reap the benefits of a healthier, happier workforce."

While they still consider them "bad," a few behaviors by bosses don't get under the skin of employees nearly as much. Specifically, the research shows that bosses who refuse to "friend" them on social media channels or who don't like to spend time with employees outside of work are the most acceptable bad behaviors.

The study was based on surveys of 1,029 U.S. employees.

Business News Daily Editor

Business News Daily was founded in 2010 as a resource for small business owners at all stages of their entrepreneurial journey. Our site is focused exclusively on giving small business advice, tutorials and insider insights. Business News Daily is owned by Business.com.