Yesterday I was casually flipping through channels when Jennifer Aniston caught my eye. I stopped to watch because I figured it was a good romcom that would likely keep me entertained while I multitasked to finish household chores. However, I soon realized that I was watching the movie ‘Horrible Bosses 2’.
The present scene was making me physically cringe due to the extremity of the socially awkward situation that the actors hilariously depicted. I couldn’t turn the channel. I was hooked and quite frankly laughing uncontrollably at the off-color humor.
As I watched the scene where the main characters were ridiculously plotting to take revenge on their current boss, I began to think about my experiences with horrendous managers and the 15 Traits that Terrible Bosses Have in Common.
1. Always late to meetings
One of the most common complaints of direct reports to their Human Resources partners is that their manager consistently arrives late to meetings.
In an already crowded calendar full of meeting after meeting on any given day, it is super frustrating when the person supposedly ‘leading’ the meeting doesn’t bother to arrive until 15 minutes after the meeting started.
This is especially annoying when the topic and objective of the meeting isn’t clear in the meeting request and those that do arrive on time attempt to uncomfortably create small talk until the boss(wo)man graces the group with their presence. Oh – and don’t expect an explanation or even a half-hearted apology upon arrival, but we will get to that point later in the list!
2. Passive aggressive
This one is the backbone of all the awful, horrible, terrible bosses! No matter if you do something well or worse, you have a situation/project that you probably could have handled better, your boss always has something clever to say in ‘jest’ with a grinning, goofy laugh; often followed by a smack on the back stating, “isn’t that right ‘champ’, ‘rock star’, ‘buddy’?!?”.
Though you are secretly daydreaming about hitting your boss in the face during this ritual of shaming, you realize you need to laugh at the situation so you aren’t perceived to the witnesses as a loser with no sense of humor. Which of course feeds the boss’s ego even more.
3. Ending meetings late
And speaking of meetings starting late, ever notice how it is the most inept manager in the room that keeps talking when clearly the meeting ended 15 minutes ago…?
The conversation quickly swings to non-business-related topics and you really could care less about what they shot yesterday on the golf course or how cute their dog is when they get home from work. But you sit patiently smiling, nodding and pretending you are interested – even though all you are thinking about is being late to your next meeting and the apology you will express to the attendees.
4. Using cheesy business spiel in every. single. interaction.
I get it. We all should keep up with the ‘flavor of the month’ hip business lingo in our industry to be a bona fide influencer in your organization.
But it makes my stomach turn when I hear the annoying battle cry of a leader utilizing constant annoying, pretentious and just pure outdated business lingo in conversations in attempt to be regarded as the subject matter expert on every topic. They aren’t fooling anyone, but you see heads nodding like mindless drones in attempt to gain their acceptance anyway.
5. Delayed communication/responses
Nothing gets under my skin more than when I text or email a manager with a question and receive absolutely no response.
I will take a delayed response, responding via other communication method, or even just a lazy, “I’ll get back to you” any day over hearing crickets.
My loathing is then taken to a new level if there is a pending decision delay that is inhibiting a project to move forward and questioning is ensued by said boss as to why deliverables are not met.
6. Expecting you to be Available 24/7
There are only so many hours in a workday – and in a day for that matter.
And some people have nothing and I mean nothing, other than work to fill their life. That equals no boundaries when it comes to texting you during Game of Thrones or calling you on Saturday morning during Junior’s Little League game.
Now to be clear, I am a major proponent of multitasking, so if the expectation is to respond when you can – great, love that. Otherwise, please don’t expect me to think about work every waking hour and respond to your every whim at the drop of a hat.
7. Taking credit for your ideas or projects
Do I even need to explain this one…? Even if you wanted to commit career suicide, how would you go about proving that your feedback/idea/opinion was yours in the first place?
The slimy excuse for a people manager will tweak it just enough to make it their ‘unique’ view point. And how could you possibly not agree with them since it was basically you that brought it to them in the first place. Yes, please present this to the executive level and take all praise and credit and throw not even an iota of appreciation to the person that actually deserves it.
8. Too busy to meet with you one-on-one in person
Isn’t the most important role of every people manager to develop and pulse-check their staff?!? Why yes it is basic HR 101!
But in reality, the manager with the absolute worst people skills, does not. And you gotta love it when the boss regularly tells you, when colleagues, HR and especially the next level manager are within earshot, that you are their first-priority and they are committed to your career goals.
Hmmm, so they must have ESP since you have never met with them 1:1 to discuss that topic nor any topic that relates to you for that matter. Most companies have a formal performance management and/or development process in place as a formal operating mechanism.
However, terrible bosses don’t care about their direct reports’ career or any of the processes that would potentially take away from, in their words, “their real work”.
9. Doesn’t bother showing up to meetings
Even worse than not scheduling time on the calendar to regularly connect with direct reports, is a boss not attending a scheduled meeting that they asked you to schedule.
Ok, ok, we get it. You are the boss. You have more important meetings to attend (even though they were in the hall talking to someone about their kid’s first soccer goal for 30 minutes).
Your employees are not important enough to ‘really’ take up time on your calendar. The accepted meeting was just a formality. Oh, and when the ego centric boss does tell you they *think* there might have been a meeting they missed with you, it’s always because a C level executive needed something at that exact same time.Yes, that excuse makes you sound important and powerful every time and immediately dissipates all animosity that exists between us.
10. Doesn’t share information from upper-level staff meetings
Since people are the backbone component to the success of a business, it’s important for a terrible boss to keep their staff uninformed on big decisions and upcoming changes.
Deep inside (way deep down) they know that a bright young star on their team could do a better job in their role for half the salary and they are intimidated. Instead of mentoring, informing and supporting their staff, they do whatever possible to keep high level agendas hidden so that their directs have to grovel to them to help complete assignments.
Not to mention the employee will look like an idiot in meetings when a question is asked and they appear ignorant for not being current with the business strategy. So, it’s a double score for the egocentric manager.
11. Overreacts when you make a mistake
Let’s face it. No one is perfect. We are all human and will eventually make a mistake of some sort at work.
A solid employee will beat themselves up enough in that situation without the boss (wo)man rubbing it in their face.
When an awful boss sees a mistake, they use it as an opportunity to point out a weakness that they can pounce on and bring to the next level. For example, not making enough copies for everyone in the room will turn into: “you are unprepared for meetings and not operating on the basis of being a team-player”.
12. Never apologizes when they make a mistake
And speaking of mistakes, rotten bosses never admit to making a mistake even when it is blatantly obvious that they made one.
Instead of learning from mistake and dare be authentic, they turn even more appalling than normal to become the master of finger pointing and throwing anyone and everyone ‘under the bus’ like it’s an Olympic sport. In fact, somehow they look like the hero to the executive management because they “uncovered” the mistake and took action to remedy.
13. Change their mind on deliverables
From the due date to the expectations of a finished project, an awful people leader will repetedly change their mind and never made a solid decision when you need it most.
In addition, they have this crafty way of making it seem like you were the one that wasn’t listening to what they acually requested – an thus, you dropped the ball. This is a lose-lose situation so best to just do what you want anyway.
14. Picks Favorites
Every bad boss has their “favorite” employee that does nothing to deserve their loyalty. Maybe they went to the same college or now their kids go to the same studio for ballet class. For whatever reason (brownnosing) there is always that one colleague of yours that your boss favors for a reason other than being a stellar employee. This is the same colleague that leaves early, arrives late, takes long vacations and always get the best projects. To add to the insult, this person is annoyingly always telling you about how great the boss is.
15. Big Ego
Terrible bosses think (ahem, know) they are the most important person in the room and have no qualms about telling everyone. You are going to hear the same stories about the same accomplishments over and over from your boss(wo)man for no other reason than bragging rights. Just practice your fake smile and go to your happy place.
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