No one wants to be a bad boss.
But even good managers commit some bad boss behaviors.
Good v. bad boss behaviors make a difference in the employee experience. Under bad bosses, employees are less productive, more stressed and generally unhappy. Under good bosses, they’re more involved, fully engaged and less likely to quit.
Specifically, and according to a Perceptyx study:
On the bright side, 65% of employees in the Perceptyx study say they work for the best boss they’ve ever had (the kind of boss most of us want to be). Just 24% work for the worst.
Boss behaviors to avoid, embrace
Naturally, you want to avoid the worst boss behaviors — and pick up more best boss behaviors.
“The words that we see cited most often – supportive, trustworthy, and caring, as well as their opposites when we ask about bad bosses – show that people want to be able to connect with managers as humans rather than the relationship being transactional,” says Emily Killham, Director of Research & Insight at Perceptyx.
Another important element is the reality gap. Many managers think they’re good enough at positive boss behaviors, but their employees rated them much lower.
Here are five bad boss behaviors you want to avoid, plus better behaviors you want to embrace and hone:
Incompetent v. Professional
Worst Bosses: Incompetent. Employees can be relatively forgiving, but working for a boss who is incompetent is frustrating. Bad boss’ lack of credibility — usually earned from unfulfilled promises, hype and failure to own mistakes — leaves employees unstable and unsuccessful.
Best Bosses: Professional. Employees thrive when they work for bosses who treat them with dignity and professionalism. The best bosses engage employees, coach teams and carry the torch toward the goals.
The Great Divide: Incompetent bosses often hide it by claiming they know what to do when they don’t even know where to start. Professional bosses know when to seek more opinions, data and/or best practices — and use it — before making decisions or executing.
Unsupportive v. Approachable
Worst Bosses: Unsupportive. They often hand out assignments and don’t offer support or resources to help employees meet goals. They manage tasks rather than coach performance.
Best Bosses: Approachable. These bosses offer support and make it easy for employees to ask for the advice, opinions and resources they need. They share information — a bounty of professional and an appropriate amount of personal — to make employees feel comfortable sharing their concerns, goals, and personal ambitions and triumphs.
The Great Divide: Unsupportive bosses usually think about one person and one thing — themselves and their success. Approachable, supportive bosses believe in lifting up their employees and helping them thrive.
Disrespectful v. Respectful
Worst Bosses: Disrespectful. One of the worst bad boss behaviors is showing disrespect in the workplace — disrespect for the company, clients, colleagues, employees, policies and beyond. They say and do things that contradict company norms and common decency.
Best Bosses: Respectful. The best bosses are the exact opposite. They speak and act fairly and kindly of their company, clients, colleagues, employees, policies and beyond.
The Great Divide: Disrespectful behaviors will catch up with bad bosses: Their teams will crumble, and their bosses will catch on to their poor leadership skills. Respectful bosses will continue to gain trust, credibility and prominence among peers and leaders.
Unfair v. Trustworthy
Worst Bosses: Unfair. They play favorites with employees, handing out good assignments and praise to their pets, and doling out bad assignments and criticism to the less-favored. They judge and make decisions without all the facts, often relying just on what they want to believe. They sometimes lie and cheat to get what they want.
Best Bosses: Trustworthy. They work to build trust with employees and colleagues. They’re fair in their decision-making process. They give credit where it’s due and criticize with tact and professionalism. They have and follow a moral code.
The Great Divide: Unfair bosses divide teams and deter progress. Trustworthy, fair bosses help teams work cohesively and achieve goals faster and with better quality.
Tyrannical v. Caring
Worst Bosses: Tyrannical. In the Perceptyx survey, 25% of employees said their worst bosses were tyrants — people they feared in the workplace. Tyrant bosses holler and intimidate to get what they want, listening only to what they want and say.
Best Bosses: Caring. On the complete other end of the spectrum is a caring boss. Almost half of the survey participants said their best boss cared about them, their lives, concerns and future. They showed it through listening and acting on what they heard.
The Great Divide: Unfortunately, tyrants do get ahead. But they seldom have a strong team behind them. Caring leaders — who balance compassion with practicality — succeed and keep good teams together.