10 Signs You’re A Toxic Boss

© contrastwerkstatt / Adobe Stock

Employee Talking to Boss

© contrastwerkstatt / Adobe Stock

AnnaMarie Houlis
AnnaMarie Houlis
July 22, 2024 at 7:57PM UTC
You might be committed to your company and you might think you’re an ethical employer, but just because you genuinely care about your work and your staff doesn’t mean that you always lead that staff in the best possible way.
According to a survey commissioned by Lynn Taylor Consulting, employees waste 19.2 hours a week worrying about what their bosses say or do — 13 of which occur during workweek and 6.2 of which consume their weekends.
If you want your employees focusing on their work instead of worrying about you, it’s important to recognize when you’re being a toxic boss. Here are 10 signs. 
1. You don’t engage with your employees.
A toxic boss doesn’t spend time establishing rapport with those they manage. Gaining trust is crucial for your employees to feel comfortable voicing both career goals and concerns with you.
2. You don’t give constructive criticism.
Studies show that women are less likely to receive valuable feedback on annual performance reviews than men. Be sure that you’re giving all of your employees clear, constructive feedback; likewise, set expectations and measurable goals.
3. You micro manage.
If you’re too overbearing, your staff won’t be able to accomplish anything efficiently. Remember that it’s not always necessary to know the play-by-play of every meeting, email exchange and phone call, so long as your employees are getting their work done on time and they’re doing well.
4. You don’t respect privacy.
If there’s an issue you need to discuss with an employee, it’s best to secure a private conference room or closed office space to have the conversation. It’s demoralizing, humiliating and unfair to have these talks in front of colleagues or via email chains with multiple staff members CC’ed. Moreover, it's unprofessional on your behalf.
5. You rank your staff.
Offering performance incentives is a smart way to keep employees motivated and boost workplace morale. But ranking team members based on their performances in comparison to one another turns colleagues into competitors, and it’ll turn your office into a breading ground for systemic gender biases.
6. You don’t give credit where credit is due.
Acknowledging work well done is oftentimes just as important as acknowledging room for improvement. By touting an employee’s efforts, you’re encouraging them to continue their hard work in that way.
7. You don’t welcome feedback.
Shakespeare once said something along the lines of, “A good boss thinks her or himself to be wise, but a wise boss knows her or himself to be a fool.” Well, not quite like that. Your employees are working at the forefront of your company — they’re on the ground, handling your clients, engaging with one another; they may have insight into areas from which you’re a little more detached. It could be wise to hear them out.
8. You don’t lead by example.
A leader is someone who influences the behaviors, attitudes and thoughts of others — a leader leads. And the best way to cultivate a company culture that’s trusting, progressive and productive is by leading by example.
9. You don’t value employees’ time off.
Vacation time is a benefit and one that is it critical to the health, morale and productivity of your staff. Despite any inclinations to email or phone employees while they’re off the clock, their time off is to be respected. Moreover, it should be encouraged.

10. You don’t offer support or warranted sponsorships.
Women, in particular, struggle to gain the support of authority figures — especially if they work under male bosses, who are evermore weary of engaging one-on-one with them as sexual harassment claims sweep the nation. They’ve fewer sponsors in their careers for that reason. That said, at some point, all employees will need support. A good boss will manage their teams; a great boss will not only manage, but they’ll also challenge, support and sponsor (when warranted).
AnnaMarie Houlis is a multimedia journalist and an adventure aficionado with a keen cultural curiosity and an affinity for solo travel. She's an editor by day and a travel blogger at HerReport.org by night.

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