5 Types of Bad Bosses to Avoid


Relationships are the most important source of meaning at work. Our research shows our relationship with our manager is the most important of all. When you have a great boss you are excited to come to work. When the relationship is off, you tend to hit the snooze button on your alarm.

Unsurprisingly, the number one reason people leave a job is their manager. No manager is perfect, but the better you are at spotting these traits during the interview process, the better chances you will have of finding a job and a manager that are a good fit. Here are some of the most common bad bosses to avoid.

1. The Micromanager

Whether out of a fear of failure, inability to trust other people, or challenges communicating their needs, a micro manager gets involved in all the details of your work. Micromanaging can prevent you from being creative or having the autonomy you need. While we all can get overly particular about certain details, when micromanaging becomes someone's default way of managing, it can harm the office dynamic. If you sense a nitpicky manager during the interview, you have a couple of options. You can hint that you work best when given creative space. You can also address the manager directly.

Ask: "When do you find the need to be deeply involved with a project vs. letting someone on your team lead?"

Listen for cues in the answer as to the triggers and types of work they mention. For example, they might say that they do it when they are on a tight deadline. Well then, explore how often work is done on a tight deadline in the department.

2. The Rudderless Boat Captain

It is hard to succeed if your manager doesn't give you the information and direction you need. You are left in the dark about the end goal or expectations of projects. This can be the result of poor planning and/or communication skills.

To get a better sense of their leadership, ask: "I would love to learn more about how your team really works. Can you share a recent project with me and how the team worked on it?"

Listen here to their role in the story and ask follow up about how the goal of the project was defined and how roles and timelines were developed. Does it sounds like "magic," or a methodical approach to how they lead?

3. The Sleeping Cheerleader

We all need to be celebrated when we do good work and make an impact. While we shouldn't need constant affirmation, never receiving acknowledgement will turn most people resentful. Managers who fail to recognize members of their team may be too distracted or might not understand the value of praising their reports. Or worse, they might not appreciate the work of the team.

Ask: "What qualities do you appreciate most in your team? Can you give me some examples of times people have stood out to you?"

Asking for specific examples is an easy way to discern a manager's attitude. If they have trouble coming up with anything positive to say about their reports, odds are they don't offer many high-fives around the office.

4. The Ghost

With some managers, you may never see them again after the interview. You might have weekly check-ins on the calendar but they always have something pop-up that gets in the way. These managers are typically poor priority setters.

Ask: "How much time do you spend with the team vs. people outside the team? What percentage of your time is spent on client visits or calls?

The answers to these questions will provide direct insights into how the manager prioritizes time and how much of it will be spent with you.

5. The Conflict Averse

Some managers are scared of conflict and as a result never give feedback or stand up for you in the organization. They are so worried about upsetting someone that they can't be courageous. This can hinder your development in the organization.

Ask: "Tell me about the last time you had to provide someone with really difficult feedback."

Listen for candid, honest, and constructive feedback in their example. You'll be more likely to receive it as their direct report.

Remember that an interview is a conversation. You are trying to convince them that you are a good fit for the position, and you also need to find out if the position is a good fit for you. Asking direct and specific questions to your future manager will not only help you decide if you'll be able to work for them, but will also show them that you care about your work-an attractive quality for any role.

Have you met any of the above bosses?

This article originally appeared on Imperative.