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Are you turning into a bad boss? It’s totally fixable if you ask yourself these questions

Several CEOs shared how their experience with bad bosses actually helped them be better and more caring bosses now that they all have to manage and inspire their own teams.

Are you turning into a bad boss? It’s totally fixable if you ask yourself these questions
[Source photo: limpido/iStock]

Everyone talks about how hard it is to find a good employee, but no one ever talks about how hard it is to find a good boss. You know, the kind that won’t literally drive their employees up a wall.

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While many bosses may be absolute geniuses in their field of expertise, some of them may be clueless when it comes to simple things like how to treat employees, build team spirit, respect personal boundaries, or simply celebrate the accomplishments of those who labor so hard for their employer each day.  

Then there are those who do things like send out demanding text messages at midnight, make condescending remarks during Zoom calls, or gossip in the workplace. The irony is that it’s more important than ever to engage employees since working virtually creates an even greater demand for teams to feel a sense of connection with their company leaders.

But sometimes leaders are so knee-deep in running their organizations or teams that they may not even know that they are behaving poorly or that they have symptoms of Bad Boss Syndrome (BBS).  So, here are some important questions to ask yourself to determine if you’re among those who suffer from BBS.

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Does your entire team walk on eggshells?

Nearly every working adult has experienced a boss who instilled anxiety and fear across their teams. Whether their behavior was marked by rage, insecurity, or general negativity, employees responded by trying not to trigger their bosses. Unfortunately, this creates a toxic environment where employees feel like they have to hide in the shadows because they are simply too afraid to speak up.

Is it hard to keep good employees around?

There is an old adage that says, “Employees don’t leave companies, they leave bad bosses.” A bad boss is one of the top reasons people leave their positions. Furthermore, an employee will sometimes quit abruptly if they finally reach their ‘breaking point’.  

Is your success all about you?

Challenging bosses may be guilty of taking all of the credit for any company milestones or successes and forget to recognize the contributions of their employees. Employees can sense when they are not appreciated, which causes resentment, especially since they too are contributing their gifts and talents to the company’s performance.

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Tips to redirect yourself

If you answered yes to any of these questions, there is a cure. Several CEOs shared how their experience with bad bosses actually helped them be better and more caring bosses now that they all have to manage and inspire their own teams.

The Ringleader of myWhy Agency Emerald-Jane Hunter recalled, “I witnessed that boss speak badly of her colleagues and even speak poorly about the people in her own circle.” Years later when Hunter launched her company she knew she wanted to run it with positive traits like good character and treating people the right way. For example, she often sends personalized Doordash deliveries to her virtual team or holds online wellness classes to give her employees some stress relief and inspiration. She even allows her team to show up for most Zoom calls with “cameras off” so people can gain a little more personal time by not having to fuss over getting dressed up for meetings.  

Now take into account what Lydia Pierre, the CEO of Pierre Branding Group, had to share about the time she worked for a boss who was very hostile towards employees. “Being in that situation made me feel insecure and no one should ever have to feel like that at work,” she remembered. When she started her company, she committed to making everyone feel safe and appreciated. To enforce this commitment, Pierre uses the so-called The PBG Commandments, a document all employees have to sign that outlines principles of respect, patience, kindness, and even has instructions on how to make personal connections with staff and clients. 

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Lauren Tucker serves as the Inclusion Management Leader of Let’s Do What Matters. She says that experiences with poor managers actually helped her to better understand the role of a good boss. She shared: “Employees don’t need cheerleaders who stand on the sidelines and hope they win. Employees need champions who get in the game with them to help them win.” As such, she runs a company based on performance and results. Tucker said, “As long as employees provide quality results, I don’t care when they do the work or whether they get it done while watching TV. I want my team to have work-life balance on their own terms.”

A toxic boss experience may be beneficial in that it could inspire you to want to be better for others, once it’s your turn to lead.  After all, when you treat your talent with appreciation and respect, you will have a much better chance at hiring and retaining great employees who can provide you with a productive workplace for years to come. 


Rikki Roehrich is a consultant and content manager for small businesses.

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