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Bad Boss Index: The worst boss behaviors, according to employees [Infographic]

bad boss index infographic

Whether it’s the credit taker, the harasser, the micro-manager, or the CEO’s incompetent kid, we’ve all had a bad boss—some of us have had more than one. And those of us in management roles often wonder if we’ve become the bad boss. These bad bosses can seriously impact employee performance.

To help organizations and leaders improve employees’ experiences with their bosses, we created a list of 24 typical boss behaviors and asked more than 1,000 US-based employees in various roles to score them from “totally acceptable” to “totally unacceptable.” Some of the biggest findings include:

1) Taking Credit For Employees’ Work is The Worst

Chances are, it’s happened to you. You contribute a fantastic idea, invest your heart and soul into a project, or make a big process change that saves the organization a ton of money, only to have your boss smile and accept all the praise from higher-ups without so much as a nod in your direction. It’s more than just infuriating; not receiving recognition for your work can directly impact your career. It’s no wonder that this bad boss behavior tops the list as most aggravating for employees.

While younger employees might tolerate some credit thievery from a superior, the older employees get, the more unacceptable it becomes. Of employees aged 18-29, 57 percent say bosses who take credit for their work are unacceptable. This number rises steadily as employees age, topping out at 77 percent of employees aged 60+.

bad bosses are hurting retention

2) Managers Say It’s Not So Bad

Surprisingly (or not surprisingly, depending on your experience), the bosses we surveyed don’t think their employees’ most-hated behaviors are really that bad. When it comes to taking credit for employees’ work, not trusting or empowering employees, and overworking employees, 20 percent fewer managers feel these behaviors are unacceptable.

managers oversee problems more than employees


3) Women and Men Rate Bad Behavior Differently

Out of 24 listed boss behaviors, women rated 19 as being more unacceptable when compared to responses from their male counterparts. The five behaviors that men rated as more unacceptable when compared to women’s responses were:  

-Refuses to friend you on social media

-Doesn’t like to spend time together outside of work

-Pushes you outside your comfort zone with new tasks and assignments

-Requires you to take personal days for mental wellbeing

-Publicly recognizes your contributions in front of upper management

While we found it compelling that virtually identical numbers of men and women have left a job due to poor management, we weren’t surprised to see that the type of behavior that caused their departure was markedly different. While 44% of both female and male respondents indicated that they have quit a job because of a bad boss, 31 percent of the women said they left due to “inappropriate” behavior, while only 20 percent of the men said the same.

men vs women workplace behaviors

Armed with this survey, we hope organizational leaders will take a look around their companies to identify any possible bad boss behavior. Employees deserve to be treated with respect, cared for, and lead by bosses who treat them fairly. What’s more, ignoring bad behavior could lead to some serious consequences, including unsatisfied employees, high turnover, and possibly even legal issues.

To see the full results, download the Bad Boss Index survey summary and infographic.

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