18 Signs You Have a Terrible Boss
Why refusing to take a sick day and never saying anything negative about your work are actually signs you may have a bad boss.
She schedules meetings when you’re out of the office
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“Does your boss ‘forget’ to tell you about important meetings? That’s a sign that your boss may be upset with you or trying to keep you from progressing,” says Lynda Spiegel, a human resources professional and founder of Rising Star Resumes. It could be an innocent mistake, but if it is happening repeatedly, then you’re missing out on vital information you need to do your job, she says.
All your assignments feel easy
Being able to practically do your work in your sleep may sound like a dream to some, but it’s actually a sign of a terrible boss. You can’t grow in your job or get promoted unless you are assigned to important projects that require you to push your limits, Spiegel says.
She cc’s you on every single email
Being copied on the email chains relevant to your project is just good business practice, but if you’re being cc’d on every conversation, regardless of whether or not it pertains to you, you may have a terrible boss, says Alexander Lowry, MBA, an HR expert and director of Gordon College’s master of science in financial analysis. Some bosses don’t want to take the time to filter out who needs what information and instead will just copy the entire team every time, leaving it to you to sort out what you need from that mountain of information. This is more than just frustrating; it’s a waste of your time.
He swears at you
Screaming and yelling are clear signs of a horrible boss, says Peter Holmes, an employment law consultant and HR advisor. You would think that speaking calmly would be Management 101. Yet it seems that nearly everyone has a story of being yelled at, berated, and even cursed at by a boss. This shows that your boss has trouble controlling his impulses and lacks effective communication skills. Nobody deserves to be bullied or abused at work.
She gives you the silent treatment when you mess up
“Giving someone ‘the silent treatment’ may seem like an obviously childlike response, but it does regularly occur,” Holmes says. The silent treatment can range from a reduction in small talk in the office to curt emails all the way to total radio silence—and all are inappropriate ways for a boss to show their displeasure, he says. You shouldn’t respond in kind, but do make sure you’re avoiding these 15 things your boss wants you to stop saying.
He swears you’re going to get a promotion…soon
You worked hard and were awarded a raise and promotion—great! Well, it will be great when it actually happens. A boss who over-promises and under-delivers, especially when it comes to advancements, is a terrible boss, Holmes says. “Whether someone is being ignored for new projects or persistently overlooked can often be an indicator as to an employee’s standing in the eyes of the manager or employer,” he adds. Perhaps they forgot or spoke to soon, but regardless of the reason, it’s an awful strategy.
She tells racist, sexist, or other inappropriate jokes
A good sense of humor can go a long way in the office, so a boss who has no sense of humor—or worse, has an inappropriate sense of humor—can really kill the office morale, says Steve Pritchard, human resources manager at Cuuver. If you tell a joke that has your coworkers rolling and your boss doesn’t even crack a smile, or if you’re expected to laugh at racist or sexist jokes, that’s a clear sign of a bad boss.
He doesn’t know anything about your weekend plans and vice versa
No one says you have to be best friends with your boss, but you should be able to have a cordial, friendly relationship with them, says Gina Folk, author of 30 Strategies to Ensure Your Team’s Success and creator of the Mentor Up Method. Part of being a good manager is having good social skills. One way to tell if your boss is lacking in this area is to note if they ever ask you about your weekend or family or some other polite-but-personal subject. A terrible boss has no time for their employees’ personal lives and makes them feel like just another cog in the machine instead of a human being, she says.
She knows every detail of your divorce
On the other hand, some bosses feel that their employees should be their friend, pastor, and therapist, all rolled into one. If your boss is constantly prying into your personal life or oversharing details of theirs, you’ve got a good drinking buddy but a terrible boss, Folk says. Are you the one in charge? You’ll definitely want to read these 10 secrets to being a good boss.
He never asks for your opinion
A good boss relies on feedback from employees to do their job. If your boss never asks for your input or opinions, it’s a bad sign, Folk says. “You shouldn’t feel like they don’t care what you think or like you’re being ignored,” she explains. You have valuable insights that deserve to be heard. Want to improve that relationship? Start with these 16 proven ways to build trust with your boss.