29 Leadership Qualities of a Nightmare Boss, According to Employees

4 min read
Jan 2, 2017

terrible boss

Vu Le, blogger and founder of Nonprofit with Balls, recently queried his Facebook friends about how to be a horrible boss. And, boy, did he get answers: 29 of them, which he published in the Guardian. Here are his friends suggestions for the things a terrible manager does:


01. “Involve yourself in every decision” — otherwise you can’t take credit.

02. Make everyone run on your schedule” — it shows them you’re the most important person there. Bonus points: pitch a fit if they start without you.

03. Correct small mistakes to demonstrate that you’re smart — hope no one notices you don’t actually understand the big things.

04. Refuse to give any feedback — keep them worried because they don’t know what you think of their work, or if you even notice it.

05. Spend time on less important things so that you can ignore more important things — we’re losing money? Let’s move some desks around!

06. Refuse to let people do their jobs, then punish them for it — casually put obstacles in their path, and then enjoy yelling at them when they fail.

07. Don’t learn new skills or improve existing ones — that’s for the people under you; you’ve already got it all going on.

08. Treat people as if they’re idiots — everybody loves to be talked down to.

09. Never communicate about anything unless it’s trivial — sure, maybe the department’s being downsized, but who’s leaving the light on in the restroom?

10. Be inconsistent and unpredictable — friendly one day, brusque the next. Keeps them on their toes.

11. Build a sense of importance by talking about how busy you are all the time — if only they knew everything you’re (not really) doing, they wouldn’t pester you with their issues.

12. Evaluate your employees on goals they have never seen before during a performance reviewthe best way to make reviews fun. For you.

13. Belittle your team over things both significant and insignificant — the one area where consistency is important.

14. Don’t set clear priorities — isn’t it fun watching them try to guess what’s the most important work?

15. Passive-aggressively remind people of the power you hold over them — make a joke about their job security. They’ll be rolling in the aisles. In terror.

fake smileSOURCE: giphy.com

16. Active-aggressively remind people of the power you hold over them — remind them occasionally about how part of your job is firing others who aren’t doing theirs.

17. Cross personal boundaries — get too personal with employees. They’ll love how you (a) use the information they share against them, or (b) switch back to distant-boss mode unexpectedly.

18. Physically invade people’s spaces — hug them occasionally even if you know they don’t like it, and talk. Right. Into. Their. Faces.

19. Delegate autonomy, but don’t really mean it — give employees new responsibilities and then undermine their authority with other employees.

20. Play favorites with team members, and make it obvious — make your pet the object of resentment and make everyone else mad. A twofer.

21. Criticize people in front of their coworkers — for promoting that hopeless, death-where-is-thy-sting morale.

22. Send subtle messages to your employees that this is not a good fit for them — when someone’s feeling too secure, remind them maybe they shouldn’t.

23. Don’t learn anything about your employees’ leadership and working styles — it’s their job to learn and deal with yours, right? Yours are the best.

24. Become defensive at the slightest constructive feedback — seek out feedback and then throw it right back in their faces. This will keep feedback to a minimum in the future.

25. Multitask while interacting with others — rudely make others pointlessly wait while you do other things. Message: you’re important; they’re not.

multitaskSOURCE: giphy.com

26. Take credit for your employee’s ideas and work — as the leader of your team, you’re entitled to take credit for all of the things you didn’t do and that you did your best to prevent from happening.

27. Be completely insensitive regarding pay differential — feel free to share how well you’re doing, especially when they’re not. Be sure to share pix from that expensive vacation!

28. Be paranoid that your employees are out to get you — they love you; you’re pretty sure. Unless . . . (see numbers 1 through 27). Those ingrates.

29. Get drunk at a gala — what could possibly go wrong?

Whew. We don’t like that guy at all. Fortunately, it’s rare that someone will exhibit more than a few of these behaviors. Hope not, anyway.

If you’ve got any additions to this list, feel free to share them in the comments.



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