Bonnie Marcus M.Ed, CEC
Do you dread going to work each day because your boss makes your life miserable?
Well, you’re not alone. According to a Gallup survey, half of employees leave their jobs to get away from a bad manager and 41 percent of American workers say they’ve been “psychologically harassed” on the job. Working for a toxic boss can, in fact, be extremely stressful and has been proven to lead to many types of health problems.
Do you have a toxic boss? Here are the signs.
They think they have all the answers. They promote people who validate they’re right and demote people who challenge them.
This is discouraging because it’s usually not based on performance. Their favorite has clear advantages such as access to resources or benefits that are not made available to others.
If by chance you have the opportunity to work on an important project and get good results, they will present the findings and take responsibility for the work. Sometimes, you aren’t even allowed in the room.
They spend a lot of time managing up and sucking up, but they have no time or interest in mentoring you.
You’ll rarely get recognition for your work or helpful advice on how to improve.
They aren’t interested in hearing other people’s opinions and will deliberately shut you down if you speak up.
Disparaging comments and body language such as eye rolls when you speak can be devastating. They may also demonstrate subtle (or not so subtle) gender bias.
They pit one team member against another to create unhealthy competition.
Gossip can be very toxic to a work environment. Be aware if they’re sharing gossip about others, they are most likely spreading rumors about you too.
It’s demoralizing and humiliating to have your boss say something demeaning about you in front of your colleagues or direct reports.
They assign you a project but then remain constantly involved in every step. They don’t allow you to think on your own or take any action independently.
This is the opposite of micromanaging. They don’t have a clue what you’re working on or the effort involved from you or your team.
They never take responsibility for their failures and are quick to assign the blame to others.
This is truly sadistic behavior, but toxic bosses will use any means to have control over others.
They aren’t guided by any one set of principles except their own self-interest. They break the rules for their own personal gain.
As you can see from this list, working with anyone having some or all of these traits is not only damaging to your physical and emotional health, it is devastating to the overall business. One incompetent or narcissistic bad apple can take down a business if allowed to persist.
Do you work with a toxic boss? If so, then you know just how difficult it can be to go to work every day. So, what do you do?
If your boss is that toxic, chance are, you're not the only one who feels this way. Find allies or develop other strategies for coping. Here are a few to start.
You're the best judge of how to do this and whether you should at all. Your boss may not even be aware of her behavior, so it's possible that discussing how it's affecting you and your work privately may make her reassess it.
If your boss is harassing you or doing anything else illegal or against the company code of conduct, this may be your first step. But it doesn't need to reach that level for you to go to HR with your issue. If your boss is generally behaving inappropriately, the company should know.
If you've tried the previous steps and there's no hope of your boss improving, then it may be time to resign. You should, of course, weigh the pros and cons to determine if this is the right step for you. Sometimes, enough is enough.
Bonnie Marcus, M.Ed, is an executive coach, author and keynote speaker focused on women's advancement in the workplace. A former corporate executive and CEO, Bonnie is the author of The Politics of Promotion: How High Achieving Women Get Ahead and Stay Ahead, and co-author of Lost Leaders in the Pipeline: Capitalizing on Women's Ambition to Offset the Future Leadership Shortage.
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