How To Identify And Avoid A Bad Boss

A bad boss can make a great job into a living hell and make you want to bail out from what would otherwise be a great opportunity. A recent report looked at what makes a bad boss and how you can identify a great boss when you go for your next job.

According to a SEEK report, the top three characteristics of a bad boss are:

  • They talk down to me or are condescending: 43%
  • They are rude and inconsiderate: 43%
  • They never admit to mistakes: 39%

Almost three quarters of us have experienced a bad boss in the past with 20% saying they are experiencing a ‘bad boss’ in their current role.

Those pieces of feedback are worth thinking about if you’re currently in a leadership or management role.

So, how do you identify a bad boss before you take that seemingly perfect job? SEEK’s resident psychologist Sabina Read has developed five questions that job seekers can ask a potential boss.

  1. What are some characteristics of current employees who shine in this organisation?
  2. Help me understand what’s important in this role aside from skills and experience.
  3. What methods of communication work best for you? How do you like to give feedback?
  4. Can you give me some examples of times when you have supported the career growth of your employees?
  5. How would your employees describe your leadership style?

Read says “While many are able to park our values at times to get a task done, in the long-term ignoring these values brings resentment and a loss of meaning – like you’re a square peg in a round hole. Job hunting is similar to dating, the boxes may all be ticked but it’s that gut-feeling of likeability, compatibility and cultural fit that is equally important”.

Often, when we look for a new role, the focus is on matching our interests and skills on the job. But finding people you’ll enjoy working with and a company culture that helps to bring the best from you are increasingly seen as critical.

The questions Read suggested are handy. Most interview processes give candidates the opportunity to ask questions. Adding these to your list of things to ask and discuss could be the difference between a great job or a terrible experience.


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