Survey: The top ways a bad boss can sabotage your career

Having a bad boss can take its toll on your career – and your mental health. Your relationship with your boss affects your work life, productivity, and ability to succeed. If it’s a bad relationship, you’re probably not going to last long in that role. Either you are going to quit in frustration – or the axe will fall when your boss finds someone else they’d rather work with.

It’s better to get out on your own terms. It is generally easier to find a new job while you are currently employed. Hiring managers tend to have a bias for working candidates over the unemployed. Plus, you’ll have the time to weigh your options and be selective about your new gig while you’re still collecting a paycheque from your old one.

It can also be empowering. Your tool of a boss nitpicking every detail of your work matters less when you know that you won’t be there for long – you’re secretly planning your escape.

A poor working relationship with a manager is the most common reason people leave their jobs. A new survey out this week from the staffing firm Robert Half found that nearly two out of five (39 per cent) of Canadian workers have quit a job due to a bad boss.

“Managers set the tone for the office and have a considerable amount of influence over the daily experiences and satisfaction of their employees ― for better or worse,” said David King, senior district director for Robert Half.

Here are the top three ways that bad bosses drive staff away

Being an absentee manager – When you can never find your boss to answer questions or receive feedback on your work, it can be frustrating. Trying to work without any input from your manager leaves people feeling adrift and eventually looking for a more supportive workplace.

Micromanaging – The flip side of the absent boss is the one who is constantly looking over your shoulder and criticizing everything you do. I once had an employer say to me in a job interview, “You’ll find me a very hands-on manager…” That was a major red flag. Receiving feedback and advice is one thing, being constantly second-guessed and corrected is disempowering and depressing.

Refusing to lead – This is the manager who leaves the managing to other people. If there are tough decisions to be made – and your boss won’t make them, it leads to confusion and chaos. Workers want to trust their supervisor, and hopefully even learn from them. If you have a leader who won’t lead, then there is limited potential for growth or development.

“When supervisors show genuine enthusiasm for projects or new initiatives, and encourage open and frequent communication in the workplace, staff feel more engaged, and better supported in day-to-day challenges.” King explains.

The Robert Half survey found other traits of bad bosses include:

  • Scheduling too many meetings
  • Playing favourites
  • Ignoring toxic employees
  • Treating employees like they are interchangeable
  • Cultivating a ‘scary’ reputation to keep staff on the edge

Here is the unexaggerated true story of the worst job interview I ever experienced, and how you can spot a bad boss right in the job interview.

See also: What to do if you love your job but hate your boss

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