17 signs of a bad boss that should raise the alarm (2023)

17 apparent signs of a bad boss

We already know the traits that make a good boss and business owner, but let’s take a look now at the indicator signs of a weak manager.

Not appreciative of employee feedback

One of the warning signs of a bad boss is that they don’t appreciate employee feedback. If an organization has no policy for employees to give anonymous suggestions or feedback to the highest on the pole then it is a clear sign that the management isn’t interested in it.

When employees ignore policies enforced by the management this implies that they’re in disagreement with the policies and apparently don’t respect the CEO or upper management.

Frequent turnover may indicate a problem with the management. If the salary is above average for the position and still the turnover is beyond the industry standard for that position you reasonably have a problem with the management.

Daniel Foley, CEO of Daniel Foley Marketing Agency

Having a lack of clarity

An alarming sign of a weak manager – lack of clarity. Clarity of purpose, mission, strategy and personal management philosophies are critical for success. A leader who lacks clarity, one who either changes his/her mind too frequently, one who is confused or lacks the fortitude to stick with the direction, will lead the company into the ground. Clarity of purpose and the strength to stick with it are indicators of sustained success.

Ravi Kathuria, Founder of Cohegic Corporation

Publicly criticising employees

One sign of a bad boss is when they give public criticism of their employees. While public praise can make an employee feel valued and respected, public criticism is just cruel. Constructive feedback should be shared in a private space, even if it’s something as small as a correction on email formatting. Keeping criticisms private shows respect for your employees as people, and will motivate them to improve.

Yuvi Alpert, Founder of Noémie

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Excluding team members from meetings

A critical sign of a bad boss is that they exclude certain members of the team from meetings that are important for that person’s performance and to do their job to the best of their ability. The root of such behavior is insecurity. The person they are excluding is often perceived as a threat to the boss’ position, so they will intentionally make decisions that will sabotage the excluded team member’s success. They will also limit access to tools, information and even people in an attempt to sabotage the employee.

Michelle Horlbogen, CEO of The Gentlewoman Boss

Unhappy employees

The first sign of bad management can be seen through the reactions of the employees. If workers aren’t happy, this means that something is wrong with the management. When people constantly leave and resign, this is another red flag. No one wants to stay in a company that treats people badly. Also, when a company constantly gets in trouble, it means that they’re making the wrong decisions. This affects the employees as well since bad decisions can lead to a company closing in a blink of an eye.

Michael Humphreys, Founder and CEO of Z Grills Australia

Constantly micromanaging

In 2019, we lost close to $500K in revenue, which was attributed to lack of delegation. I used to follow up with each employee instead of allowing them to display their potentials and own the process. When I hired an independent HR to audit what was going on, my employees were not happy with my management style. And since we changed this, we have realized double-digit growth.

Today, we only set the overall company objectives and each employee is required to set their own targets and goals based on the company objectives. In this way, they own the process and feel proud of their achievements.

Ronnie Teja, CEO at Branzio

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Bad task dissemination

An alarming sign of a bad boss is when he doesn’t know how to effectively manage his subordinates in terms of task dissemination. As a leader, you have to learn how to delegate tasks fairly and make sure that all employees comply with their assignments. An unfair workload may result in employees quitting their jobs and maybe resulting in burnout.

William Taylor, Senior Recruitment Advisor at VelvetJobs

Not respecting time off

When it comes to signs of bad management, as an employee, you should be alarmed if they don’t respect your time off.

To have your work done with the highest quality, the employee should organize their time efficiently. When they work in the office, they need to concentrate on their company tasks. However, each of us needs to maintain a proper life balance and keep track of our time off. Managers should respect that and make sure their personnel is healthy and well-rested. If they start calling you during the weekend and ask for some reports, that might be a sign that it’s time to quit.

Cristina Moraru, Digital Marketing Assistant at Media Training

Overpromising and underdelivering

One sign of a bad boss is overpromising and under-delivering. A good leader is fully aware of what is and isn’t possible and they do not make statements for the sake of manipulating, coercing or smothering their reports. Overpromising and not delivering creates mistrust and toxic work culture in which people normalize things like not meeting deadlines, unaccountability, and lying.

Paul French, Managing Director at Intrinsic Search

Focusing on the negative

A prolonged focus on the negative is one sure sign of bad management. These types of managers only focus on what’s not working instead of what is. By consistently focusing on the negative, these managers affect employee morale and tend to dismiss new ideas, thereby stifling growth. They tend to be dismissive of their staff and never offer warm or encouraging words of praise, often putting employees in their place. As negativity is their predominant attitude, they might also end up being sarcastic (which is not conducive for productive meetings) and might even engage in rude and insulting behaviour.

Donna Atanasova, Marketing Specialist at myPOS

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Not listening to reports

When managers have too much pride and won’t listen to their direct reports, the lagging indicator is usually bottom line. Early indicators are volatile or rocky team meetings, especially if there are tensions boiling around seemingly innocuous discussions or simple decision-making processes. When employees find themselves in a situation with a manager who is unwilling to listen to feedback, regardless of where it comes from or whether this is positive or negative, it’s a sign of bad management as opposed to a reflection on the employee themselves.“

Markus Goess Saurau, Co-Founder ofSönd

Inability to motivate the team

One alarming sign of bad management is not being able to motivate the team. Often this happens from not having clear goals. The tram is wandering without purpose like in a swamp, not knowing where they are, where they want to go and what needs to happen to get there.

If the team isn’t excited about the product/service they create, about the process that leads to production, how are they going to motivate buyers and users? High-performance team is fired up. Not knowing how to fire up your team is a sign of lack of management skills.

Natalie Luneva, SaaS growth and team performance coach at Natalie Luneva

Low emotional intelligence

When a leader has low emotional intelligence i.e. is out of touch with themselves and the world around them, they aren’t an effective leader, but instead, a bad boss. This lack of self and social-awareness, curiosity, and self-confidence can be seen in their inability to listen, control their emotions, embrace humility over authority, and guide and empower their team and people through asking insightful (non-leading) questions.

Brittney-Nichole Connor-Savarda, Founder of Catalyst 4 Change


Unreached company goals

If the business is not reaching its goals most likely the management is faltering. There are a lot of moving parts with varying degrees of responsibilities and importance with goals and deadlines. If the team is experiencing so many drawbacks, this is likely trickling down frommanagement.

Daniel Shapiro, Founder and CEO of Fourlaps

Not taking ownership of issues

The most common sign of a bad boss, in my experience: They blame others instead of taking ownership of issues.

As a manager, your job is to make sure the team functions successfully, and take steps to fix the problem when it’s under-performing. It may be productive to identify who caused an issue in the workplace, mostly so you can work with them and keep it from happening again, but it’s a red flag if the boss’ first impulse in response to a crisis is to point the finger instead of looking for solutions.

The real problem here is that the boss has the wrong mindset. They’re concerned with the appearance of success rather than doing the hard work of achieving it. Someone who wants the best for their team and company will do what it takes to improve it, and that means admitting their faults and owning up to their mistakes. Someone who gets defensive in response to criticism is more concerned with their own ego than the good of the team.

Matt Erhard, Managing Partner at Summit Search Group

Rejecting all ideas

You can tell you have a bad boss when they reject nearly all of your ideas. Dedicated team collaboration is the key to building something that lasts, and that collaboration is founded on great communication, mutual trust, and respect. If a boss refuses to consider any of their employees’ ideas, it shows that they lack the respect and trust necessary to build a strong team.

Vincent Bradley, CEO and Co-Founder of Proper Wild

Creates a toxic company culture

If your team just seems flat and uninterested in their work, that’s mostly because of the bad boss that creates a toxic company culture. When many businesses think of toxic cultures, they immediately assume it’s all about high staff turnover and high conflict. But in truth, many toxic cultures are actually flat and see teams just coast in their roles rather than take an active interest.

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The low-energy toxic company culture can see teams with no enthusiasm about the product or service you provide, let alone your customers.

Lizzie Benton, Founder and Culture Consultant at Liberty Mind


What behaviors distinguish a toxic boss? ›

Signs of a toxic boss
  • They set unrealistic expectations. Does your boss demand that you stay hours after closing? ...
  • They play favorites. ...
  • They can't admit their own shortcomings. ...
  • They expect you to do their job. ...
  • They throw fits. ...
  • You feel sick at work. ...
  • You feel anxious before coming in. ...
  • You've developed nervous habits.
Jun 8, 2021

What are the four types of bad bosses? ›

There are four types of bad bosses, namely: Marionette, King Kong, Superman, and Taskmaster.

How do you outsmart a toxic boss? ›

How to deal with a toxic boss: 7 tips
  1. Make the decision to stay or go. The first step in dealing with a toxic boss is to make a realistic decision about whether to stay or go. ...
  2. Do the work: Don't be a target. ...
  3. Don't get drawn in. ...
  4. Don't gossip. ...
  5. Keep detailed records. ...
  6. Don't derail your career. ...
  7. Remember, it's not forever.
Sep 7, 2020

How do you deal with a shady boss? ›

Try one or more of these tips to find some common ground with your boss—or at least stay sane until you find a new gig.
  1. Make Sure You're Dealing With a “Bad Boss” ...
  2. Identify Your Boss' Motivation. ...
  3. Don't Let it Affect Your Work. ...
  4. Stay One Step Ahead. ...
  5. Set Boundaries. ...
  6. Stop Assuming They Know Everything. ...
  7. Act as the Leader.
Jan 24, 2022

How bad bosses ruin good employees? ›

Bad bosses don't really value their employees, and the employees can feel it. In turn, they stop making their best effort. When you don't feel appreciated and valued, you are less likely to bring your best self to work, and you are less likely to flourish on your projects.

How do you know you're not valued at work? ›

Lack of support is one of the most obvious signs you are not valued at work. An employer will give you adequate mentoring, training, and resources if they want you to grow. A disinterested company won't care to arm you with skills or tools if they don't intend to nurture you. They'll keep their investments low instead.

What is the most valuable employee? ›

Dependability; employees who consistently follow through. Those who maintain a positive attitude, especially in the face of adversity. Employees who are team-oriented and make the most out of collaboration. Effective communicators who favour clarity and are always one-step-ahead.

What does bad management look like? ›

“A bad manager is one who does not clearly define for employees their responsibilities. This can lead to confusion amongst team members and work not getting done if no one understands that the tasks are their responsibility.”

What makes a poor manager? ›

Signs of a bad manager are undesirable leadership traits that cause friction between supervisors and employees. For example, micromanagement, conflict avoidance, and credit-stealing. The purpose of pointing out these qualities is to help managers avoid pitfalls and lead teams more successfully.

How do you deal with a manipulative manager? ›

You can't change other people, but you can develop skills to protect yourself from being manipulated by others.
  1. Know Your Basic, Human Rights. You have the right to be treated with respect. ...
  2. Keep Your Distance. ...
  3. Have a Backbone. ...
  4. Ask Probing Questions. ...
  5. Do Not Blame Yourself.
Jun 10, 2014

How do you stand up to a rude boss? ›

Here are four things you can do to deal with a rude boss:
  1. Ask why. Perhaps the boss has had a bad day, but it's possible that he is really cross with you. ...
  2. Be positive. The temptation when someone is being rude is to respond in kind, but that is not advisable with your boss. ...
  3. Learn and adapt – to a point.

How do you tell if your boss wants you to quit? ›

10 Signs Your Boss Wants You to Quit
  1. You don't get new, different or challenging assignments anymore.
  2. You don't receive support for your professional growth.
  3. Your boss avoids you.
  4. Your daily tasks are micromanaged.
  5. You're excluded from meetings and conversations.
  6. Your benefits or job title changed.

What is a toxic supervisor? ›

Toxic managers divert people's energy from the real work of the organization, destroy morale, impair retention, and interfere with cooperation and information sharing.

How do you deal with a Gaslighting boss? ›

Don't Confront Them Directly

Since gaslighters respond to criticism with personal attacks, they'll feel threatened by any direct challenge and retaliate. They may even accuse you of gaslighting them. So as much as you can, try to avoid contact. Instead, consult HR for strategies on minimizing your time with them.

How do you tell if your boss wants you to quit? ›

10 Signs Your Boss Wants You to Quit
  • You don't get new, different or challenging assignments anymore.
  • You don't receive support for your professional growth.
  • Your boss avoids you.
  • Your daily tasks are micromanaged.
  • You're excluded from meetings and conversations.
  • Your benefits or job title changed.

How do you tell if your boss is testing you? ›

In this blog post, we will discuss signs that your boss may be testing you and what signs can mean for your career progression!
  1. #1 A Longer Work Week. ...
  2. #2 Different/weird project requests. ...
  3. #3 New project deadlines. ...
  4. #4 Strange behaviors from other employees. ...
  5. #5 Your manager ignores you. ...
  6. #6 Little praise from managers.
Aug 29, 2021

Who is a toxic boss? ›

“Toxic bosses are all about getting work done, but do not focus on your own needs for development and work that taps into your strengths and skills.” A good boss is one that communicates goals and is willing to have difficult conversations with their staff.

What are examples of a bad manager? ›

30 Bad Management Behaviors
  • Not being responsive to questions or requests. ...
  • Forgetting what you have asked them to do. ...
  • Assigning the same task to different employees. ...
  • Not setting an example (do as I say, not as I do). ...
  • Taking Special privileges. ...
  • Coasting. ...
  • Not pitching in in a crisis. ...
  • Overpromising and under delivering.
Apr 29, 2015

How do you know if you are in trouble at work? ›

Here are fifteen signs trouble may be brewing at work:
  1. You've received multiple bad performance reviews or negative warnings. ...
  2. You're left out of the loop. ...
  3. You're being set up to fail with tasks that make you feel like you're being asked to climb Mount Everest. ...
  4. Your relationship with your boss has changed.
Dec 6, 2017

How do you know if you are being watched at work? ›

How To Reveal That Your Boss Is Spying On You
  1. Check your company's handbook or your contract. ...
  2. Ask the IT department. ...
  3. Check if there are any cameras in your office. ...
  4. The computer camera light is on. ...
  5. Check the running processes at your computer. ...
  6. The boss recalls conversations or facts which you thought were private.


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