Bad Bosses, and How to Recognize Them


Working and being productive can be an incredible feeling, especially when you enjoy what you do. You're running on all cylinders and you're hitting all of your key performance indicators. Your teammates are wonderful and you genuinely enjoy coming to work.

Unfortunately, your boss is a real piece of work (Here are some of the worst boss traits to have), and somehow manages to make your life a living hell.

That's the reality for some people. They've got horrible bosses but they have to find ways to deal with it because they need the job. Here are some stories I've heard from people who have had terrible bosses, and how you can potentially handle those situations!

The Double Crossing Boss

"At the time, I was a Marketing Executive for a media agency. I loved what I did and I was confident that my abilities were providing actual results to our clients. The only problem was my manager. Every aspect of my day was great, except for the moments where I had to interact with him. He would constantly hover over us as our team did work and would make minute changes that would have had no effect on our clients. When we presented the assets to our clients, he would take point and state that he led the efforts on the entire campaign, even though he literally stood around, watched us work, and tapped away on Facebook Messenger with his friends during the day. But of course, we can't bring this up with the founders because he's an old friend of one of them."

If you've never had a bad experience at work with a superior, count yourself among the lucky ones. Problems can arise in any situation, and there will always be times when a situation clearly feels unfair. In the above example, it's hard to bring up these infractions when the person working directly above you has a close line to the senior members of the team, but that doesn't mean you can't bring these things up.

A diplomatic way to bring up conflicts of this nature is to create a letter or a petition and have everyone on your team sign it. This can be anyone that has been affected by that person's actions or attitude. Introduce this letter to your senior level executives to make them aware of what's going on. You don't want to make a big fuss about it though. There's no need to create drama in an office setting. Just bring up the issue and let the senior team handle it, but you have to make sure that they are aware of the underlying issues.

The Insulting Boss

"I was the personal assistant to the CEO of the company, and was constantly belittled by her. She would call me names and would often add derogatory remarks about my race. I've been working for her for two years now and the closest thing I've gotten that resembled a compliment was 'At least that doens't look like a 5 year old made it'. That was for a proposal I wrote for one of our long-term retainers."

Sometimes, it can be hard to leave a position that you've grown accustomed to, even if it's unhealthy for you. Try to reason with your boss first. Bring up your troubles and what you're having difficulties with (which is their attitude). If they are unwilling to change and your position is still a relatively entry-level to mid-level job, such as a personal assistant, it might be a good idea to start looking for another position while you work.

It's much more common nowadays for people to hop from job to job every two years or so. Don't feel bad about leaving your job for a better situation. If your boss is abusive or insulting, and you can't get them to change, it's probably a better idea to move on!

The Micro Managing Boss

"I'd recently started working remotely for the company two days a week. My boss and I used Gchat to communicate throughout the work day. Any time I took my eyes off the screen for longer than 2 minutes, my boss would start spamming with me with messages, asking where I am, what I'm doing, why I'm not working, etc. It got to a point where she began asking me to notify her of every single action I take when I'm at home to ensure that I was on task. Whether I went to get a cup of water, get a snack, or even use the bathroom, I would have to inform her of my whereabouts first. Remote positions have never been more fun."

It's terrible knowing that you have someone constantly monitoring your every action. These are difficult bosses to work with because their constant need for updates leads to a loss in productivity from the employee, which is you! Instead of letting them approach you with all sorts of inquiries, why don't you reach out to them first to tell them what you're working on?

Every time you shift onto a new project, inform them of what you're doing, but don't give too much information. Give just enough of an outline to kick things off, and give them frequent updates. It'll be annoying in the beginning, but you'll get used to the flow and you won't be bothered by your boss as much since you'll be willingly giving up information about your tasks.

Horrible bosses are tough to deal with. A lot of the time, employees have to deal with these issues because they have no other choice. The only way to get through it is to make the best out of your situation, even if takes a few more steps than usual.

Just remember that jobs are out there. It might take some time to find them but eventually, something will fall into your lap. If a situation is bad enough that you can't handle it, breakdown the pros and cons of your job and see whether it's worth it for you to stick around or to start looking for something new!

Chris Chu

Freelance writer, passionate about professional and personal development.

4 min read

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