Do you have a bad boss?

Categories: Career

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Do you have a bad boss?

Let me start off by saying that I don’t. My bosses (more than one job = more than one boss) are pretty great, and I feel very lucky because, about a decade ago, I had one that wasn’t.

That water has long gone under the bridge, but still I wish I had noticed the problem earlier — or, at least, felt confident enough to question what I was experiencing. Bad bosses aren’t as glaringly obvious as Bill Lumburgh from Office Space (”Aahh, now, are you going to go ahead and have those TPS reports for us this afternoon?”). It can take years to recover professionally, not to mention emotionally; bad bosses can really do a whack job on your self esteem.

If you’re wondering if you have a bad boss — or if you want to measure just how good your boss is — put your red stapler somewhere safe and then ask yourself:

1.) Would she be willing to do what she just asked me to do? A good boss knows how to delegate; a bad boss will order you to do things that he wouldn’t — or couldn’t — do himself.

2.) Who gets the credit? A good boss will give credit where credit is due — good or bad. A bad boss will take credit for your good work — and possibly leave you holding the bag when he messes up.

3.) Is he even in today? A good boss may be away from his desk, but you know where to find him (or, at least, when he’ll be back). A bad boss will often go missing during critical times — again, leaving you holding the bag.

4.) Whoops. Now what? My good bosses have been generous with praise and constructive about criticism, making me more that willing to own up to my mistakes and to offer up my best ideas for the good of the company. A bad boss will offer excuses for her errors, try to cover up her mistakes — or try to blame you for them.

5.) Does she want me to move up, or move on? A good boss will give you opportunities to learn and grow on the job, to gain new strengths, and to work on your weaknesses. A bad boss will set limits so constricting that your best bet for a promotion may be with another company. Case in point: If you used to do X, then are told to stop doing X, and then are criticized for not doing X, your boss? Is not a good one.

Have you had to deal with a bad boss in your past?

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One comment so far...

  • Oh, boy. Did I ever. He met all five criteria, and I could probably add items 6-10 too.

    1. Beneath him to do most tasks.
    2. Took all of the credit, even if he had nothing to do with; also dished all of the blame, even if YOU had nothing to do with it.
    3. Good question…when I wanted to know where he was, he was gone. When I really didn’t want to know where he was (like drunk at a “gentleman’s establishment”, he’d scream at me over the Nextel. Preferably when I was in a meeting.)
    4. I got blamed for a sheetmetal job going over. I didn’t estimate it, I didn’t run it…so why was I to blame again?
    5. Told me I was too stupid to run work. Interestingly enough, the jobs that I did run (my immediate supervisor saw through that and gave me smaller jobs to handle) had a 25% profit margin on them which is great for the industry.
    6. Actually told me that I wasn’t going to get a raise because he had to give the money to my coworker, who had a wife who didn’t work and a child at home. Um…okay, what does his family situation have to do with my performance?
    7. See number 3 - this was not an unusual occurance, either.
    8. Asking questions during the interview that are not legal (i.e. “when are you planning on having kids?” “are you married?”, etc.). Should have been my first sign.
    9. Brought his mistress to the office, thus making things a seriously awkward situation for ALL employees (this was a small office - less than 15 people) because suddenly we all knew about his trysts should his wife inquire. I felt he was asking us to be a part of his deceit in doing so.
    10. My paycheck bounced. Nuff said?

    CV  |  February 26th, 2009 at 9:40 am