Back To Career News

3 Ways to Tell If You’re a Bad Boss


Is your team fleeing the company like the proverbial rats off the sinking ship? Bad news. The problem might not be your organization. The problem might be you.

bad boss 

(Photo Credit: betsystreeter/Flickr)

Bad managers are the number one reason people leave their jobs, but unfortunately, many organizations don’t spend the time and money necessary to train managers to be better. That means that it’s totally possible to be a terrible boss — and not even know it.

Do You Know What You're Worth?

Here are a few ways to tell if you’re the problem.

1. You’re moody.

“I once had a boss that we called ‘The Bear’; most people assumed he earned this nickname due to his large stature,” writes Maren Hogan at SmartBlog on Leadership. “We actually called him that because you were never sure if you were getting a teddy bear or a grizzly bear from day to day. That guy was all over the place!”

As Hogan points out, if people can’t predict your behavior, they can’t trust you. And speaking of trust…

2. No one ever tells you things.

Sure, people are naturally cagey around the boss. After all, if they present you with a problem, they’re turning over control of a situation. Also, no one likes a tattletale.

Still, if you’re always the last to know about a problem, either you have a serious communication and trust breakdown with your people … or you’re clueless. None of those things are good.

3. You can’t — or aren’t allowed to — make decisions.

This is really two problems: one is a failure of decision-making, and the other is lack of support from your higher ups. Both are an issue.

In order to be an effective leader, you need to evaluate options and choose a course of action — even if you’re not 100 percent sure that it’s the right choice. Good leaders can do this and take in new information, and change their minds. In effective leaders are indecisive or unable to adapt.

Finally, if your own managers aren’t empowering you to make decisions, you need to question whether you’ll be able to be the kind of boss you want to be, or your people deserve. If not, maybe it’s time to look into moving on to a job where you can really make a difference.

Tell Us What You Think

What was your worst-ever boss like? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.

Jen Hubley Luckwaldt
Read more from Jen

Leave a Reply

3 Comment threads
0 Thread replies
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
1 Comment authors
KerryMoneyButtCHES_DudeLou Recent comment authors
newest oldest most voted
Notify of

Wow, I hope the guy with the brain tumor sued. That’s been illegal since Nixon so it baffles me how these psychopaths keep getting away with it.


You are 100% correct when you have Manager to whom not only does not know how to make any decisive decisions, but is all over the place with one thing than the next and shifts and is completely clueless all of a sudden?

That’s why we have lost over several or more people in my direct group due to this behavior and the person still gets promoted to a higher position? Crazy Company to be in in.


Bad bosses?  Geez, hard to pick the worst.  The paranoid conspiracy theorist who used to play with his .357 Magnum on the desk during project meetings and once aimed an elephant hunting rifle at my chest and joked about how the bullet would go through me and the concrete wall behind me?  How about the alcoholic rage addict who wasn’t happy unless he reduced at least one secretary or engineering tech to tears every day?  When he tried to provoke… Read more »

What Am I Worth?

What your skills are worth in the job market is constantly changing.