almost 5 years ago by Randolph Bunnell

Signs of a Difficult Boss | Next Generation


Are you the kind of boss employees change jobs to get away from? Can your employees stand you? Unfortunately, you may never get the answers to these questions, unless you take some “you” time to evaluate what kind of boss you are. It might be a tough thing to do, especially because of the many hats you have to wear in the workplace. You have to be a mentor, coach, and leader at the same time. Nonetheless, it is worth the effort. Check out the below signs that you are a difficult boss, and how you can change this.

1) You are always micromanaging

Employees are always complaining about bosses who are always micromanaging their tasks. They feel demotivated, disengaged, and can't grow their skills or become creative. How do you know you are a micromanager? Check out for the following traits:

  • You find it difficult to delegate tasks to your employees;

  • When you delegate the task to the employees, you are constantly monitoring their progress;

  • You make corrections to an employee's task from time to time, thus there is no room for employees to learn from their mistakes;

  • You ask employees to let you review their work before they can send the email, present it, or hold a meeting.

How to change: If this description fits you, it is not yet too late to change. Start by trusting your employees to get the job done. Give them heavier assignments and allow them to learn from their mistakes. You should coach employees only when they ask for your help. It will help them develop their skills, and allow you to get extra time to engage in other productive tasks.

2) You communicate poorly

Communication is a key in any kind of relationship. If you keep the communication line between you and your employees closed or difficult to reach, you are being a difficult boss. Other signs you do not communicate well with your employees are:

  • You don't inform them about the status of their projects;

  • You don't tell them about new developments in the company;

  • Failing to give the information they need to make decisions;

  • Giving unclear and contradictory instructions that leave them confused.

How to change it: Ensure you are on the same page with your employees by giving them clear information about the company's goals and what you expect of them. Maintain an open line of communication where employees can raise their concerns and receive feedback. For instance, it can be in the form of a suggestion box, email chat, or face-to-face conversation.

3) You only give negative feedback

If the only thing you can point out when your employee submits a particular project to you for performance review is the mistakes they made, things that need improvement, or areas they should change, you are a difficult boss. You are making your employees feel demoralized and less productive. However, it is something you can change.

How to change: Start by acknowledging areas they have done well or places where they have made improvements. Next, you can point out areas that need change, improvement, or correction. Doing this will ensure you give balanced feedback which employees can abide. It will also encourage them to keep up the good work, boost morale, and increase productivity.

4) You are inconsistent

Are you the kind of boss who is frequently changing their mind? Here are some examples of inconsistencies that show you might be a difficult leader:

  • Your rules differ from employee to employee;

  • Similar mistakes attract different disciplinary actions;

  • The promotion criteria changes from person to person;

  • You make varying suggestions from one meeting to the other;

  • There are no standard policies or best practices.

How to fix it: You need to regain your employees' respect and trust in your leadership by creating standard rules, policies, and best practices. Avoid confusing your employees by giving consistent guidance across all meetings. If possible, post a set of rules and regulations in a prominent place in the workplace.

5) You resist change

You may not realize it but by resisting change, you are dooming your business to a stagnant position. Signs that you are resistant to change:

  • You don't accommodate new ideas;

  • Shooting down any suggestions raised by employees;

  • You are comfortable sticking to the way things have always been done;

  • Sticking to outdated methods of doing things because you fear change;

  • You hire team members who are not innovation-driven and you fear empowering current employees.

How to improve it: Empower your employees by encouraging career development and training. Hire team players who can bring innovative ideas to the table. You also need to acknowledge that change is critical in increasing productivity. Encourage your employees to make suggestions on aspects they feel need a makeover. Also, be open-minded to new ideas and suggestions.

6) You don't respect the employees’ personal time

You make your employees feel they are always on the clock because you may call them to work at any time. If this is a description of you, it is time to change to become a better boss.

  • Expecting your employees to work 24/7.

  • You assign them additional work 5 minutes to office closing hours.

  • You keep calling them to ask about office information during their off-time.

How to change it: Help your employees establish a work-life balance by encouraging them to practice relaxation techniques and self-care. Give them enough time to rest to feel rejuvenated when they get back to work. Respect personal time by refraining from calling them during their off-day. If possible arrange how communications are to be done when the employee is on leave.

7) You are a blamer

Are you the type of person who feels that they are always right and can do no wrong. There is some news for you, your marriage probably will be tough and you might be a difficult boss.

  • You point out others as being wrong;

  • You never admit when you make a mistake. Instead, you blame it on others;

  • Lack of personal accountability.

How to change it: Lead with honesty and integrity. Apologize when you are wrong. Quit pointing fingers when things go the way you want them. Remember you are a team, and the failure of one team member is equal to that of the whole group. If you can, be accountable for the team's failure. Work on how to resolve the matter, instead of dwelling on whose fault it was. Your employees will feel that they are working with you towards the company's goals, instead of just working for you.

Final words

If the person described here matches you, you now know you have been a difficult boss. You have killed employees’ morale many times and put the organization at risk of failure. However, don't beat yourself up for it. No one is perfect, and there is still time for you to improve. Use the above tips to change and boost employee engagement. There is so much you can do today to become a better boss. You only need to try harder to keep your employees' and organizations' interests above yours. Within no time, you will be the boss any employee enjoys working with, and you will get admired by other bosses.


About the author:Randolph Bunnell is an experienced copywriter and marketing specialist with a deep interest in digital marketing, IT and entrepreneurship. He regularly contributes to various blogs and online magazines. Randolph also has a medical background and runs Skin Answer blog, where he provides descriptions of common diseases and provides tips on how to deal with.