Authentic &


Matt Douglas, Founder and CEO of Sincere Corporation

5 Ways to Be a Bad Boss

There’s an old saying in business about employees who leave their job: “you don’t quit your job, you quit your boss.” I’ve spoken with plenty of people who love their job and what they do everyday but hate their boss. I’ve heard unbelievable horror stories about bad bosses from family and friends. As a result, I work hard to NOT be a bad boss.

A bad boss can be a huge stress on your life. If you’re a bad boss you have a tremendous negative impact on your employees’ happiness and well-being.  In fact, a study found that “60% of employees working for the U.S. federal government are miserable—not because of low pay, poor workplace benefits, or insufficient vacation days—but because they have bad bosses.” Regardless of an employee’s salary or other benefits, a bad boss can negate all of these perks.

So how do you become a bad boss?  Here are 5 Ways to be a Bad Boss. Go ahead, I give you permission to send this list to someone you think might need a little guidance…

1) Lead Through Fear

This is an old-school type of management in which managers use their authority and power to intimidate their employees. If you lead through fear it means that you are insecure or you hired employees who aren’t trustworthy (it’s more likely that the former is true). Fear-based bosses often establish ridiculous rules, make threats, and dole out unfair punishments. While they think they are successful and keep their employees in line, they do so at a major cost. These businesses often have high turnover rates and low employee morale. Want to be a bad boss? Use your position of power liberally, and make sure your employees know who is always in charge.

2) Don’t Respect Boundaries

I know people who get texts from their boss all times of day and at night and weekends. These bosses don’t realize how destructive it is to expect your employees to always be “on.” Very few employees want to hear from their boss at night or on weekends unless it is very, very important. I’ve also noticed a pattern with these kinds of bosses: they typically send messages in a “stream of consciousness” manner with numerous texts or emails as they come across new issues or come up with a new idea.  Want to be a bad boss? Email and text all day and all night long and don’t respect an employee’s boundaries.

3) Establish Bad Workplace “Benefits”

Bad bosses often establish workplace policies that are meant to be beneficial but are really just veiled financial maneuvers for the company. For example, I know someone whose company closes for a week during July and then all of the employees are forced to use their paid time off that week. She is also forced to use vacation days when there is a snow day — even though the business still makes money. Want to be a bad boss? Implement policies that are unfriendly to employees and only beneficial to the company.

4) Micro-manage

This is common management style from old-school bosses. To be a bad boss, insist that you review and approve EVERY single email an employee sends out. Stop by your employee’s desk or workplace often and ask unnecessary questions about their work. Want to be a bad boss? Criticize how your employees accomplish tasks and make sure to let them know that you have more experience and can do their job better. It’s the perfect recipe to cultivate a disengaged and unmotivated workforce.

5) Don’t Own Your Mistakes

Bad bosses never own up to their own mistakes. In fact, they go out of their way to make sure any problems in the organization are a result of something or somebody else. A bad boss takes credit when things are going well, and turns away when things are going badly. Want to be a bad boss? Next time there is a problem, use every politically correct catchphrase to deflect blame. You’ll be sure to piss off most of your employees.

YOUR TURN:  Do you know someone who is a bad boss? What do they do to make them so bad?

©2024 Matt Douglas