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What Separates a "Good" Boss From a "Bad" Boss?

Horrible bosses. Almost everyone has had at least one in their working career. The effects that a bad leader has can ripple throughout an organization and leave the bad boss with a bad rap making it difficult for them to promote (Rightfully so!). It’s certainly the last person you want to become in your organization. Not only would you be risking your reputation, but you would also be the boss who causes good employees to cringe when you enter the room. Or worse yet, be the one who causes good people to leave the company!

You want to be the type of leader that employees are willing to go the extra mile for. A leader that inspires and nurtures your team and gives them the confidence in performing. You want to be their leader that offers guidance and motivation while showing integrity and modeling the behaviors you want to see in your organization. You want to be more than a boss. You want to be a leader.

So, what’s the difference between a good boss and a bad boss?

Remember your favorite teacher? Most people remember a favorite teacher as a gentle elementary school teacher greeting you with morning smiles showing patience in abundance to help tie shoelaces or offer a constant supply of tissues to wipe runny noses.

For you, maybe a high school teacher who nurtured a love for classic literature. Or a math teacher who made numbers and formulas fun and introduced you to the Pythagorean Theorem.

Maybe later in a university where your unconventional professor challenged you to open your mind and demand more of yourself. Or perhaps a young professor who joined you and your friends at the campus pub rather than spend their Saturday night grading papers.

Many of us have had one or more than one teacher we will never forget. Of course, we all have a teacher or professor who stands out for all wrong reasons too. Those who were too strict, demanding, unfair, unavailable…etc. And chances are we have all had, at some point in our working careers, that one boss who stands out as a horrible boss.

Can you remember a terrible boss? Perhaps they were a poor communicator and an even worse listener. Or an unapologetic narcissist and thought of no one but themselves. Or managed staff through intimidation, bullying tactics, or by general fear and scaremongering. It has been said that employees do not leave good jobs, they leave bad managers. Or people do not leave bad companies, they leave bad managers.

Bad managers often make several common mistakes that cause loyal, dedicated staff to leave. A good boss will avoid these mistakes or risk sabotaging staff retention:

12 Behaviors of a bad boss and the consequences of those behaviors...

Are unreachable: Employees need input from managers from time to time. Staff who cannot count on a timely reply to emails and voicemails may be frustrated and seek greener pastures.

Micromanage: This shows staff that you do not believe they can make good decisions on their own. This is demeaning to employees who want to prove they can shine.

Shirk responsibility: Everyone wants a leader who leads, not someone who just occupies the corner office.

Waste others’ time: It causes frustration among employees.

Are disrespectful: People want to work for someone who makes them feel valued, appreciated and treats them like they are an integral part of the team.

Does not give feedback: How does a staff member know they are being effective if they are not told? Recognition for a job well done is also essential for staff retention.

Picks favorites: This is a sure-fire way to make other employees feel unsatisfied and like the playing field is stacked against them.

Ignores toxicity: When the boss ignores the difficult team members and the problems they cause, top performers may get frustrated. That leads to unhappiness on the job and is a big reason why good employees leave.

Breed negativity: Negativity is contagious. Managers who complain can expect the same from their employees. The tone is set at the top.

Keep employees from growing: Bosses who do not foster growth will see good employees leave because they often feel stifled and like they have hit a plateau. 

Cultivate an intimidating reputation: Temper and impatience are a bad combination in a manager. Employees should be able to come to their boss when they need support, see hurdles ahead, or worry that something is about to go wrong.

Take things personally: Bad bosses fail to move when things do not go as planned. They hold grudges and may let conflict fester. They refuse to take responsibility.