Think you have a toxic boss? Here are the signs.

10 Signs You Have a Toxic Boss

In Lists, Working with a Bad Boss by Jason CortelLeave a Comment

We all know them and few love them. The boss who constantly berates other people within the organization. The boss that creates more division than harmony. The manager who condescends and never listens to their people. These are toxic bosses and here are 10 signs you work for one.

1) You don’t respect each other.

When you first start out with a boss you have high hopes that this will be the one who helps polish you. You readily give them respect and genuinely reflect on their criticisms. Over time you find that the only feedback they offer is in the form of criticism. They rarely say good job or thank you. Soon you find that your interactions are full of disrespect or condescending tone.

2) You’re not putting in the extra effort.

When you were first paired with your boss you stepped up your game and were eager to show them what you were capable of. Every interaction was full of pleasantries. The extra effort becomes the expected norm, more and more work is assigned to you without appreciation or recognition of the extra effort. Other co-workers are getting away with doing less and somehow are getting the boss’s respect. This leads to resentment and frequent conflict between you, your co-workers and your boss.

3) They have a distrust of others.

A toxic boss will continuously blame their team for poor work and will shout from the roof tops that they are unreliable and untrustworthy. They may even go above and beyond and tell you directly that they don’t trust you. They maximize their use of scapegoats and go as far as to encourage others to do the same.

4) Unable to pronounce ac·count·abil·i·ty.

A toxic boss can’t pronounce accountability much less demonstrate it. It is almost as if it were a Japanese word. As long as it isn’t time to be accountable for something they will make it absolutely clear they are in charge. When it is time to be accountable they blame “the idiots” around them.

5) They are self-absorbed.

Toxic bosses are extremely incompetent. This drives them to take credit for the work of others and they are constantly on the campaign trail promoting their own importance. When your boss constantly talks about themselves or argues with every point you make it is a sure sign they are difficult to work with.

6) There’s chronic emotional abuse.

Emotional abuse systematically wears away at your self-confidence, sense of self-worth, trust in your own perceptions, and self-concept. A toxic boss is emotionally abusive by berating and belittling, by intimidation under the guise of guidance, teaching, or advice. Their abuse includes anything from verbal abuse and constant criticism to more subtle tactics, such as intimidation, manipulation, and refusal to ever be pleased.

7) They have extreme friendliness.

A toxic boss will use an agreeable pleasant nature to bait others.  Using smoke and mirrors they seem charming, but they lack empathy and consistently manipulate others.

8) They whisper “just between us”.

A toxic boss will “confide” in you about the incompetence of other team members. They will use negative language, innuendos and hushed tones to poison the names of your co-workers. This is another way that a toxic boss will feed their own importance. Don’t mistake this for trust in you or an indication that you are important. If they are doing this with you, trust and believe, they are doing it to you.

9) Defensive body language.

A toxic boss will avoid eye contact, shift around constantly, focus on their computer or shuffle through papers while talking with you. If they exhibit these signs while you are talking about your strengths it is a good sign that they are feeling insecure and may view you as a threat. When a toxic boss begins to feel you are better at your job than they are at theirs you most likely will end up with a power struggle.

10) Their team is abandoning ship.

A toxic boss will have a hard time keeping people on their team. If people are leaving a manager in droves it indicates they are showing signs of being a toxic boss.

How you handle a toxic boss will vary depending on the circumstances. If your trust in the organization is still intact you can talk to HR or the toxic boss’s boss and recommend coaching. Make sure that you document and quantify the damage that is being caused to the organization. If your trust has been stolen by your toxic boss it is recommended that you find another job.

Do you have any other signs of a toxic boss? Use the comments below or follow the conversation on Twitter using #ToxicBoss.

Jason has a passion for leadership, management, strategic planning, and organizational development. He is recognized for having the ability to develop client-focused organizational cultures through people development resulting in significantly higher customer and employee satisfaction and retention.
Jason Cortel10 Signs You Have a Toxic Boss

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