Bad Boss Warning Signs: 4 Subtle Red Flags You Should Look Out For

Bad Boss Warning Signs: 4 Subtle Red Flags You Should Look Out For

If you’re considering taking a new job, the people you work alongside are a fairly important part of your future role satisfaction. So, how can you tell if a boss is going to be a joy to work with, or an absolute joy kill? We spoke with Leah Lambart, a SEEK Careers Coach, to find out the red flags that’ll suggest your future boss may make your life more difficult than it needs to be.

Red flags that point to a bad boss


We asked Lambart to share the clearest signs someone may be a ‘bad boss’ that employees can hopefully pick up on during the interview process.

She shared the following:

  • An interviewer appearing disinterested about you or the interview
  • An interviewer that takes credit or is preoccupied with promoting themself at their team’s expense
  • An interviewer who interjects on your answers or talks over the top of you. This may be a sign of the respect or consideration they could treat you with in the workplace
  • An interviewer who isn’t clear on what the role actually involves may indicate that they are unable to provide the support and encouragement needed to set you up for success

She expanded, sharing that in addition to the above, “where appropriate, you could also try asking your interviewer about their own management style and how they like to work with others. While this may not be completely reflective of their management style in practice, it may give a greater indication of how they work e.g. they may indicate that they like to be particularly ‘hands-on’ in their management style, which could be an early sign of micro-management”.

What is a ‘bad boss,’ anyway?

Okay, so now that we have some red flags to consider as warnings against bad bosses, I suppose we should get clear on what a bad boss is, exactly.

In general, many definitions of poor management or ill-equipped bosses are going to be subjective to you and your working style.

But SEEK has actually completed some research on what most people think ‘bad boss experiences’ tend to look like.

Lambart shared here that “over two-thirds (68%) of Aussie workers” feel they have worked with a bad boss in a role. “Of those workers, 60 per cent reveal they have left a role because of the experience,” she continued.

Per SEEK’s data, many Aussies feel the following characteristics are common in a ‘bad boss’:

  • Being rude or inconsiderate (48% of respondents)
  • Never admits to their mistakes (42% of respondents)
  • Talks down to others and is condescending (42% of respondents)
  • Exhibits micromanaging behaviour (42% of respondents)

“In my experience, these types of behaviours don’t set the team up for success and can lead to staff becoming disgruntled, disengaged and lacking in motivation,” Lampart shared.

What’s particularly interesting, however, is that although a huge number of respondents shared they feel they have worked with a bad boss, SEEK data showed that “85% of bosses rate themselves at least a 7 out of 10 in terms of being a good boss”.

Steps to take if you’re working with poor management

If you find yourself in the difficult position of having to work alongside a bad boss, Lambart has shared a few tips on making the most of the situation and hopefully improving things a little.

  • First, consider the context of the situation: Lambart first shared that “it is important to take a step back to assess why this might be occurring. Is your ‘bad boss’ behaving this way with intention, or could there be reasons behind the behaviour?”
  • Have a chat: Once you have an understanding of the source of the problem (perhaps different communication styles, or a lack of confidence) Lambart suggested “starting some respectful dialogue to alert them of how their behaviour is impacting you in your role”. A private and constructive conversation where you communicate the barriers to your success are raised is a useful step for many.
  • Continue communicating: Finally, Lambart explained that “keeping communication open and establishing boundaries and expectations upfront should help to minimise some of the frustrations that occur when personalities or communication styles are not aligned”. Ideally, this will allow you and your boss to move forward in a positive way.

Lead Image Credit: 20th Century/iStock

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