Before bashing bosses on their big day—Boss Day, one of a bajillion faux holidays now on the calendar—let’s point out that not every manager is a bad boss. In fact, in a 2014 CareerBuilder survey, 63% of workers said their bosses deserved an A or B grade for their performance on the job, while only 14% gave the boss a D or an F.
If you’re in that majority, let’s hope that you’re never subjected to the managerial styles of the D- and F-worthy bosses like these.
The Incompetent Schmuck
Probably the best thing you can say about the hapless Michael Scott-type managers of the world is that they’re not intentionally mean (assuming you’re not the office Toby Flenderson). Rather, they’re simply clueless. Or at least that’s what employees think of them: In one poll, one third of workers described their bosses as “somewhat” or “completely incompetent.”
The Abusive Bully
Best embodied by Miranda Priestly, the iconic character played by Meryl Streep in The Devil Wears Prada, the abusive boss seems to take pleasure in torturing his or her underlings. Presumably, the purpose of treating one’s employees harshly is to shape them into better workers and help the company, but the strategy can backfire. More than 13% of employees say they’ve worked under hostile and abusive supervisors, and the frequent result, according to some research, is that when people are ridiculed by managers on the job, they’re more likely to engage in deviant behavior that’s counterproductive to company goals.
The Horny Lech
In the 1980s, Dabney Coleman served as the prototypical arrogant, sexist boss who was constantly hitting on attractive workers in movies such as Nine to Five and Tootsie. More recently, this creep has been played, surprisingly enough, by Jennifer Aniston in two Horrible Bosses movies, in which her character is a dentist who crudely and memorably sexually harasses a dental assistant played by Charlie Day. In real life, the majority of restaurant workers have reported experiencing sexual harassment on the job, and that’s no joke.
The writings of psychologist Kevin Dutton have shed light on how many of the characteristics found in psychopaths—confidence, charisma, ruthlessness, focus—are also common among leaders in the business world. And the underworld too, of course, embodied by Tony Soprano. In studies of corporate professionals, psychopathic traits are more prevalent than they are in the general population, and Dutton’s research indicates that the profession with the most psychopaths (in terms of percentage) is … CEO.
The Cruel, Cheap Bastard
The stingy, money-hungry Montgomery Burns is “The Simpsons’” Ebenezer Scrooge (before the ghost visits), known for giving out raises, well, never. Perhaps he’d get better production out of Homer and the rest of the nuclear power plant crew if he showed them a little more appreciation. According to a 2013 Glassdoor survey, 81% of employees say they work harder when the feel appreciated by their bosses, and workers say that money is by far the best way to motivate and show them appreciation.
The Untrustworthy Backstabber
Nearly 9 out of 10 employees polled by StaffBay.com said they don’t trust their bosses. In another Glassdoor poll, two-thirds of employees said that a direct manager has had an impact on their careers—and of those, 20% said the impact was negative. Apparently, the Sigourney Weaver character in “Working Girl” isn’t the only sneaky, backstabbing boss out there. (By the way, there are some smart strategies for coping with bosses who take credit for your work.)
The Annoying Bureaucrat
What’s … happening? If you’re a fan of the cult favorite “Office Space,” you’ll get that reference. And if you’ve got a boss like Bill Lumbergh in the movie, then you’re guaranteed to be uninspired on the job, at least partially because your manager is inept in terms of interpersonal skills, expects more of his workers than he does of himself, and lacks vision, energy, and enthusiasm. All of those characteristics just so happen to be listed among the top 10 fatal flaws held by bad bosses in a 2012 Harvard Business Review study.
Now, all you bad bosses, if you could just lose all of these negative traits and allow your workers to handle their jobs in peace? To quote Lumbergh, “That would be great.”
But until that happens, check out these posts for some tips on how to cope. Oh, and Happy Boss Day!