So what's your bad boss horror story? Everyone has one. Bad boss behaviors contribute to much conflict, turnover, low engagement, health issues for employees, and other negative consequences that directly or indirectly impact the financial performance of organizations.
While there are several more critical examples, when the rubber meets the road, these are five of the worse and most common management misbehaviors I've encountered over the years.
1. They steal the spotlight.
The team puts together a wonderful product and rolls it out on time. The client is jazzed. And then it happens: The manager takes all the credit for the work. No praise for the team, no celebration of everyone's success, no recognition of team members for their contributions. This type of manager will hog the spotlight, and when that happens, team morale plummets.
2. They have narcissistic tendencies.
A pathologically narcissistic manager can potentially derail an employee's career. Joseph Burgo, author of The Narcissist You Know: Defending Yourself Against Extreme Narcissists in an All-About-Me Age, says this person "often relies on contempt to make others feel like losers, proving himself a winner in the process. He will belittle your work product or ridicule you at meetings. At his most toxic, he will make you doubt yourself and your ultimate value to your employer."
3. They're only looking after number one.
Forget the mission or aligning team goals to organizational objectives. It's about individual performance and getting that annual bonus. Managers with this attitude are playing for the name on the back of the jersey and are only concerned about their accomplishments and how they look to superiors.
4. They let the inmates run the prison.
If your workplace has reached a toxic state where co-workers are backstabbing each other, people are hunkering down and taking sides, co-workers are turning against one another, and gossip circles are secretly campaigning for someone's demise, your managers have lost control of the prison. Whether unwittingly or not is not as important; what's really important is for the more loyal and employees and high performers to clearly understand that they report to someone with a total ineptitude in the privileged role of leadership. It'll get worse before it gets better. That is, until your managers are replaced along with some of the inmates.
5. They are horrific communicators.
For these types of managers, clear communication is rare and often results in saying one thing on Monday and changing direction by Wednesday, often without telling the team. It's the classic case of "the right hand doesn't know what the left hand is doing." There are health risks working for such a person. One notable study involving more than 3,100 men over a 10-year period found that employees who had managers that were uncommunicative (along with three other traits) were 60 percent more likely to have suffered a heart attack or other life-threatening cardiac condition.
6. They are unwilling to hear the truth.
Want your team morale and collaboration to go south fast? Simple: Hire egotistical managers unwilling to hear the truth. For them, the bigger the perception gap between how they see themselves and how their employees and colleagues see them, the worse their relationships will become in the long run. If they can ax the hubris and seek out and listen to trusted truth tellers, which can then prompt some healthy introspection on past uncivil behaviors, there is usually a big payoff in the form of trust gained, respect earned, and performance improved. Fat chance of happening unless a spontaneous combustion of humility and integrity causes a seismic shift in character development.