Five things you're doing that make you a bad boss

Five things that make you a bad boss

When you first become a boss, it can be daunting. You want to be a “good” boss, in the way that you benefit the company, but you most likely also want to be a “good” boss as it pertains to treating your staff and building your team.

The problem is, unless you work for a company with a very codified management training program, you’ll never learn the “rules” of what it takes to be a good manager, so the best most of us can do is to model our style after bosses we appreciated.

This comes with its own pitfalls. One size doesn’t fit all, and you’ll have to adapt your style to your team. You also can’t expect that the things you choose to value are the things your team will appreciate.

There are trends in what employees hate to see from bosses. For instance:

    Not Replying To Emails/not Being Available For Status Meetings

    It might seem like your team knows how things work and they could be very capable at their jobs, but that doesn’t mean that you can and should let them perform their jobs without your involvement. Often, your role can involve finding efficiencies and talking employees through projects, and those discussions might be the very thing they need to succeed. The higher you go, the more you’re in “meeting hell,” but your team still need you to check in. Consider booking off “office hours” during the week where you are unavailable for meetings with anyone not on your team.

    Not Communicating Standards

    Sometimes in an effort to accomplish a task, you accept work that might not be 100% to your standard, or depending upon the situation a team finds themselves in, you might carry out a task in an unorthodox way. You can’t be upset if that same team runs with those standards if you haven’t communicated the expectations. A good way to do this if you have a newly formed team is to take 10 minutes at the top of a kick off meeting or during your status meetings to communicate your expectations.

    Only Listening To The Squeaky Wheel

    On every team there are those who communicate well, and those who prefer to keep their heads down. Often, the ones who keep their heads down are the ones who see the most, and have the best ideas for how to change things. Don’t dismiss quiet for “OK.” It’s important to find a way to make communication easier for those on your team who aren’t proactively telling you what’s going on.


    Everyone has experienced a hovering boss, and not a single person enjoys the experience. It’s really easy to get caught in the trap of being a hoverer, though, because meetings take you away from essential parts of a project’s development, and you don’t want to seem distant or indifferent. It’s important to know when to bow out and let your team get on with work. The best way to accomplish this is to ask (and, of course be available when they do need you.)

    Not Taking The Long View On Projects

    Unless your office is a Police Station, Fire Station, or ER, projects you complete aren’t going to fix or ruin anyone’s lives. It’s important to view projects as a part of a larger system, and take the “long view” of the team’s contribution. This includes letting people let off steam during projects, and understanding that not every deliverable is life or death for the company as a whole. This view will gain you respect, but will also improve your decision making in trying times.

    “As a boss, there is a tendency to not want to overlook anything, because the buck stops with you. There is an art to picking your battles, though. Sometimes, your team will respect you more if you can look at each piece of a project in its larger context. This perspective will make them want to work harder for you, because you are demonstrating trust and fostering accountability.” Says Sarah Paul, Director of Human Resources at Govan Brown Construction Managers.

It’s not easy being the person responsible for the success of a team, but unless you take steps to involve your team in a way that fosters trust, support, and open communication, you could find yourself a bad boss.


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