Most employees complain about their boss now and then, but here are signs you might have a really bad boss. 

  1. Yelling. Managers who yell diminish their own authority because they look out of control. A manager confident in their own authority doesn’t need to yell because they have far more effective tools available. Don’t yell, and don’t work for yellers.
  2. Fuzzy expectations. If your manager doesn’t communicate clear, concrete goals for your work, and convey to you what success in your position would look like, they are failing on one of the most important tasks. A good test: If you and your manager were both asked what’s most important for you to achieve this year, would your answers match?
  3. Unreliability. A boss that never makes deadlines, like your annual review, your evaluation or simply reviewing your work when you asked for some help.  He promised to join you for an important meeting but doesn’t make it. She says she’ll forward you a client’s contact info, but the email never comes. You need to be able to rely on your manager.
  4. Unable to make decisions. This often takes the form of managers neglecting to address performance problems or not firing low performers. But it surfaces in other ways too, like not taking responsibility for moving work forward or punting in favor of trying to reach consensus.
  5. Unrealistic demands. Holding staffers to a high standard is a good thing. But insisting that people work over the weekend to complete a project that isn’t time-sensitive, or demanding that an employee do the truly impossible, is the mark of a tyrant.
  6. Allergic to direct and candid communication. When a manager sugarcoats to the point the message is missed, or presents requirements as mere suggestions, employees end up confused about expectations, and the manager ends up frustrated that her “suggestions” weren’t acted upon.
  7. Dictatorship. Managers who rule through rigid control, negativity, and a climate of anxiety and fear don’t trust that they can get things done any other way. Of course, it backfires in the end because fearful employees won’t bring up new ideas for fear of being attacked and won’t be honest about problems.
  8. Defensiveness. Managers who respond defensively when their decisions are questioned end up quashing dissent and making employees less likely to suggest new and different ways of doing things. Managers who are secure in their authority aren’t threatened by dissent, and they recognize that others’ ideas are sometimes better than their own.
  9. Drama. A good manager minimizes drama, rather than causing it. If everything is a crisis around your manager, she’s probably what’s at the center of the problem.
  10. Fear of conflict. If your manager avoids conflict and tough conversations, chances are high that employees don’t hear much feedback and problems don’t get addressed.
  11. Drowning Manager.  A manager that is about to go under will stand on staff members heads to save themselves from going under.  Like a duck on a pond, you never know what they are doing below the surface to stay afloat.
  12. The Overly Friendly Manager.  The one that doesn’t understand the boundaries between being respected and liked.