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5 Reasons Your Team Thinks You’re a Bad Boss


No matter how great you are as a boss, the odds are against you that your team holds the same opinion.

According to recent studies, 31 percent of employees say they don’t like their boss, 65 percent of executives would rather have a new boss than a raise, and the majority of people would trust a stranger over their boss.

No one sets out to be a bad boss. We’re just messy human beings doing the best we can. Of course with these odds, most of us are dealing with a difficult boss, too. That kind of stress flows downhill. Here are five behaviors to watch out for:

1. You kiss up and stomp down. You drop everything to support your boss. You treat her with deep respect and move mountains to accomplish whatever she asks. The problem is, all that responsive urgency leaves your team spinning, stressed and overworked.

How to fix it: Treat your team with the same level of respect you give your boss. Be just as professional and polite. Consider the impact before making commitments. Check in frequently on workload and discuss priorities.

2. You care more about your career than theirs. Nothing’s more aggravating than a boss who thinks it’s all about them. Don’t be the guy who puts your career above all else.

How to fix it: Take time to understand your employees’ career aspirations and invest deeply in each person. Develop a deep bench and cross-train so you don’t feel the urge to hold onto your MVPs. Set goals for how many people you want to get promoted each year. Take those targets as seriously as your other key performance indicators.

3. You waste their time. It’s audacious to think your time is more valuable than your team's. Fuzzy vision causes rework and disorganized meetings have huge opportunity costs.

How to fix it: Don’t make them wait or hold stupid meetings. Keep lists for each person on your team, and bring them several items at once, rather than distracting them each time you have a new task. Ask your team for feedback on how you can save them time.

4. You ignore their input. Your employees are one step closer to the customer than you are. They’ve got big ideas and want to share them. Jerky bosses think they know better.

How to fix it: If you’re not going to listen to their input, don’t ask. If you want respect, respect their ideas. Slow down enough to be persuaded. Teach your team how to sell you their ideas (see the P.E.R.S.U.A.D.E. model).

5. You’re moody. Stress is contagious, particularly when the boss is the carrier. Understand your moods and work to release them somewhere other than on your team. Real leaders stay collected even during the most exciting times.

How to fix it: Notice your patterns and what sets you off. Find other ways to release your stress (mediation, yoga, exercise, prayer). Encourage your team to give you a sign when the intensities too much.

Most importantly, make it easy for your team to talk with you about how you make them feel. Many employees save their discretionary effort for people they respect.

Karin Hurt is a speaker, writer and CEO of Let’s Grow Leaders. She is the author of Overcoming an Imperfect Boss.

(Image via JrCasas/

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