The World’s Worst Boss

Angry face sign

Employees tell me things they don’t tell their manger.

Maybe it’s because I’m from the outside, they feel safe talking with me. I like to think it’s because my manner helps them feel more comfortable.

In either case, when they think work has become unbearable, I’m the guy they tell. With a look of desperation in their eyes they want to know if I can help them.

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I can, but…

That’s not what their managers have hired me to do. More than likely, they asked me to deliver a seminar to help their employees work through differences or perhaps communicate more effectively with one another.

When I’ve volunteered this sort of unsolicited feedback in the past, it usually doesn’t go well. So I’ve learned to provide this sort of feedback only if they specifically hired me to tell them what I’ve learned.

What do your employees say about you?

What would your employees tell me if we had a chance to chat privately? Hopefully it’s not what I hear all too often. The employees at their wits-end tell me all the reasons their boss is the worst. 

I’ve heard enough of these tales to feel comfortable compiling a list of their complaints.

Usually I help managers improve their skills by teaching them how to do the right things. Another approach is to simply avoid doing the wrong things.

That’s what this list represents.

  1. Piles on more work than they have time to do.
  2. Doesn’t provide them with the training they need to do their jobs.
  3. Expects them to get the job done with tools and technology that don’t work.
  4. Attempts to control their every action.
  5. Doesn’t give them credit for the effort they make.
  6. Withholds raises and other reasonable perks.
  7. Brings down the hammer at the slightest mistake.
  8. Doesn’t ask them for their opinions.
  9. Doesn’t act on their suggestions.
  10. Blames them for problems they didn’t create nor are within their control.
  11. Keeps them in the dark on things that matter to them.
  12. Plays favorites.
  13. Uses funny math to explain why the impossible can be done.
  14. Makes promises and doesn’t keep them.
  15. Shifts legitimate business costs onto them.
  16. Yells, nitpicks, and belittles.
  17. Expects work to come before family.
  18. Uses job security as a threat.
  19. Derails advancement opportunities to keep them locked in place.
  20. Punishes people instead of fixing processes.
  21. Pits teammates against one another.
  22. Contacts them on their personal time.
  23. Requires compliance on policies that he/she doesn’t follow.
  24. Trash talks coworkers behind their backs.
  25. Doesn’t keep confidences.

You can turn it around

You don’t have to be the perfect manager. On any given day you are going to disappoint or even anger employees. But when they get over it, they should return to the opinion that you are a half-way decent human being, doing your best to help them succeed.

If that’s not the case, and you are one of the bosses who regularly model any of the 25 items above, then my advice is simple: Cut it out. Their anger and resentment is getting in the way of better results.

Finally, if you’re not sure where you stand, there’s one way to find out. Let me ask them for you. Employees don’t tell bad bosses the truth. They just don’t, but they’ll tell me.

By Tom LaForce

Tom LaForce helps companies change by creating stronger teams, more effective leaders, and better processes. To discuss a challenge you're facing, use this link to schedule a free discovery call.