Good Boss – Bad Boss

Probably most of you could agree on some of the characteristics of a good boss or a bad boss, but other elements might well differ depending on your particular perspective. The main thing is that you need to determine what makes a good or a bad boss for you, in order to have a reasonably satisfying and productive experience in your job–now and in the future.

What Makes a Good Boss?

In my opinion, a good boss needs to fit at least the following specifications:

  1. Builds, leads and motivates teams to tackle challenges with enthusiasm and a sense of purpose.
  2. Provides support that enables you to grow and to respond effectively in difficult situations.
  3. Backs you up when you are being unfairly challenged, hassled, etc., even if it means going toe-to-toe with senior managers.
  4. Delivers constructive performance feedback in a timely manner but not in the presence of an audience.
  5. Gives credit publicly for your contributions so others know the value you have delivered.

What Makes a Bad Boss?

Although a lot of factors could come into play here, these are a few of my least-favorites:

  1. Gives lip-service, at best, to the concept of teamwork and fails to create an atmosphere that supports it.
  2. Considers your possible professional growth not part of his/her responsibility and potentially a threat to his/her own success.
  3. Refuses to support you when you’re stuck in a disagreeable situation through no fault of your own.
  4. Harangues and bad-mouths you not only to your face and in public but at other times as well.
  5. Expects you to work yourself half to death but gives no public recognition of your efforts.

How Can You Tell a Boss Will be Good or Bad?

There might not be any surefire way to tell 100% of the time, but you can take a few steps to minimize the risk of landing up with a bad boss:

  • Do your homework before you interview at a company. Research not only the company but its management. Go beyond the company’s own website to find background on the person you would be reporting to…AND his/her boss.
  • Watch and listen carefully when you go for a job interview–not just when you get into the interview room but before that. Sometimes you can pick up subtle–or not so subtle–cues that will give you useful clues.
  • Tap into your network to double-check with them about any possibly useful information they might have on the person who would be your boss in the new job, before you decide to accept an offer.
  • Think with your head but also consult your heart and instincts. If they seem to be sending contradictory messages, consider carefully before you commit to joining the company.

Lastly, remember that the boss-employee relationship has two components, not just one. Sometimes a not-so-great boss can be transformed into at least a good one if you bring the right qualities and outlook to the relationship. If you’ve slipped up somehow and ended up with a bad boss, accept the fact of the misstep and begin thinking what you can do to improve your situation one way or another. On the other hand, if you’ve ended up with a good-to-great boss–celebrate!

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