5 Signs To Identify a Toxic Boss in Action

Whether virtual or in-person, there are common traits of toxic management that will destroy a team.

By Marcel Schwantes@MarcelSchwantes / inc.com

5 Signs to Immediately Recognize a Toxic Boss in Action
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Over the past two decades, I’ve combed through research and coaching client files to discover the top mistakes people in leadership roles make to disengage their workers.

Some of the findings aren’t surprising. With a shortage of good leaders, more individual contributors are being promoted to management roles without the proper skills and competencies to effectively lead human beings.

Throw in the widening remote workplace dynamics caused by the pandemic and, well, you begin to see that managing people is no easy task.

Whether virtual or in-person, there are common patterns and traits of toxic management that will work against the goals companies are trying to obtain. Here are five to be aware of that may cause good workers to be updating their resumes.

1. They steal the spotlight.

The team puts together a wonderful product and rolls it out on time. The client is happy about how much money and time the new system will save. And then it happens: The manager takes all the credit. No praise for the team, no celebration of everyone’s success, no recognition of team members for their contributions. This type of manager will steal the light and thunder away from the team, which is a total engagement killer.

2. They are never wrong.

Ever work with a manager who’s always right and you’re always wrong? He has a hard time taking blame or ownership for things and will never admit to having made a mistake. He’s more concerned with preserving his reputation and saving face. 

3. They micromanage.

Toxic bosses insist on getting their hands on every aspect of your work. They have a hard time letting go and trusting their team members to perform their work. As a result, the employee experience under such suffocating micromanagement can be downright demoralizing.

4. They are rude.

In a 2020 poll conducted by ResumeLab on what makes someone a terrible manager, it was found that an alarming 72 percent of the surveyed population was treated in a rude or disrespectful manner by a bad boss and 90 percent didn’t like that kind of treatment. Additionally, nearly 70 percent of respondents were criticized in front of their peers, and 83 percent of them felt bad about it. Finally, and perhaps the worst case of all, an eye-popping 42 percent of toxic bosses blamed others for their failures, which 84 percent of employees feel is unfair.

5. They talk only about themselves.

Toxic bosses may start virtual meetings by getting straight down to business and leaving people tense and on-edge. They won’t check-in and ask how their team members are doing, or demonstrate any empathy for the current work-from-home challenges posed by the pandemic. Toxic bosses are selfish by nature and only concerned with having bottom-line conversations that concern or benefit them. 

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