How Can You Tell You Work for a Toxic Boss? They ‘re Known for These 5 Things

Lenore Staats

With so much of our employees’ work lives now blending with their personal lives, having the wrong boss can make the work-life blend a liquified hell.   Plenty of research states that people leave bosses rather than jobs. While no manager is perfect, certain behaviors may clue you to the reality that you’re reporting […]

With so much of our employees’ work lives now blending with their personal lives, having the wrong boss can make the work-life blend a liquified hell.  

Plenty of research states that people leave bosses rather than jobs. While no manager is perfect, certain behaviors may clue you to the reality that you’re reporting to a truly toxic boss.

As someone who has literally recovered from the physical and emotional trauma stemming from having worked under a stifling, fear-based corporate dictatorship, I’ve observed five common toxic boss traits or habits that may be present in your work environment.

1. Narcissism

Narcissists lack empathy, have a strong desire to break rules and defy the status quo, are likely to engage in manipulation to advance themselves at the cost of others, and are socially skillful with aggressive underpinning motives. Does this sound like your boss?

2. Micromanagement

Toxic bosses insist on getting their hands on every aspect of your work. They have a hard time letting go and trusting their team members to perform their work. As a result, the employee experience under such suffocating micromanagement can be downright demoralizing.

3. Setting unrealistic expectations

While good bosses will set the bar high and stretch you to reach new heights while supporting you along the way, toxic bosses can sabotage the workplace by setting goals so high and expectations so unrealistic, it may often be impossible to complete the task, leaving employees disengaged and hopeless.

4. Rudeness

In meetings, toxic bosses may cut off their employees as they present a view or idea that doesn’t align with their own. A toxic boss may deliberately shut others down if he doesn’t like their opinions. And when personally interacting with a toxic boss, you may hear disparaging comments about other people (rumors, gossip, gender bias) or see body language such as eye rolls when speaking to them.

5. Incompetence

Many toxic bosses were recent individual contributors promoted to management without having the competencies to lead human beings. Plainly stated, they suck at soft skills. When employees finally get that their boss lacks the competence to lead effectively, they’ll lose trust in that person and interest in their work. This is a recipe for why “people leave bosses rather than jobs.”

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.

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