5 unhealthy traits of bad bosses

In workplaces across the globe, managers with bad traits are failing to trust colleagues and ultimately inciting negative working environments

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Man talking to colleague
Having a bad manager can lead to a host of health issues, including an increased risk of heart problems. Bad communication, micromanagement and mood swings are among the worst characteristics

Typically, bad bosses are portrayed in books, films and the media as those with horrible personality traits such as aggressive leadership, bullying, anger-management issues and control problems. Not exclusive to fiction, managers such as these can be found in workplaces across the globe.

In a 2012 study performed by health management consultancy Keas.com, it was found 77 percent of employees in the US experience physical symptoms of stress from bad bosses exhibiting such traits, and those with uncommunicative managers were 60 percent more likely to suffer heart trauma. Here we also look at five traits of a bad manager and how they can ultimately impact the workforce.

Bad communication
Generally, bad managers lack the skill to positively communicate their ideas and give direction. Bosses with this trait tend to change their minds often on important aspects such as expectations and deadlines frequently, leaving employees wondering when they will change their minds again. A survey by Harris Interactive and talent management company Development Dimensions International found half of workers say their bosses don’t communicate with colleagues for ideas on how to solve a problem, giving little direction or support.

[T]hose with uncommunicative managers were 60 percent more likely to suffer heart trauma

Unable to collaborate as a team player, these managers like to have control and fail to trust their subordinates, tending to either keep the work for themselves or hover over colleagues to make sure the work is done correctly. In his book My Way or the Highway: The Micromanagement Survival Guide, author Harry Chambers reports 79 percent of those surveyed said they’d been micromanaged at one time or another. A 2003 survey by office products manufacturers FranklinCovey, meanwhile, singled out micromanagement as the most significant barrier to productivity employees faced.

Mood swings
Managers with major mood swings and a grumpy attitude tend to create a negative working environment. Those who are too intent on making others feel their frustrations can drain the life from a workforce. Inc.com discusses just how bad “crummy bosses” can be in its infographic based on statistics from the US National Bureau of Economic Research. They found 65 percent of employees would take a new manager over a pay rise, with three out of every four employees reporting that their boss was the worst and most stressful part of their job.

Lack of appreciation
Praise does not come naturally for bad bosses, who either fail to give positive appreciation to co-workers or tend to keep the approval for them. Taking the praise for others’ ideas or work was cited by employees as a standout example of bad boss behaviour in a global survey conducted by Forum EMEA as were poor communication, lack of clarity and recognition, lying and gossiping. In saying this, encouraging employees to offer ideas and suggestions is just an example of how great leaders instil confidence and trust.

Bully bosses use aggressive leadership tactics to take control. Perhaps because power is the advantage in most hierarchal companies, offices can bring out the bully in people. Most of these types of bosses generally don’t care whose toes they step on to climb up the corporate ladder. According to The Workplace Bullying Institute, approximately 27 percent of workers in the US are victims of workplace bullying, with about 45 percent of those cases relating to bosses. The New York Times found approximately 60 percent of workplace intimidators are men.