Do you work for a toxic boss and feel powerless to do anything about it? If so, you are not alone?
The number one reason employees resign and leave a company, has nothing to do with remuneration packages, it has everything to do with their boss. People leave managers – not companies.
Imagine you are an employee who has just resigned, and your previous boss sent you an invitation to a boat trip the next week. Then you read between the lines and find out they are celebrating your resignation! This is the sucker punch that comes after you are finally defeated.
What everyone else going on the boat trip doesn’t know, is how this boss treated you. From ignoring you, giving you work well below your ability, capacity, or talent, demeaning and marginalizing you in front of your peers, and to top it all off telling you two things, “While I’m in this position you are going nowhere. You are not worth what you are being paid!”
Really, there are bosses like this? Yes, there are and this is a real story that left this employee traumatized and a story that is repeated time and time again in the workforce.
Undoubtedly at some time in your life, you will come across a toxic boss. Here are 7 types of toxic bosses you should avoid working for.
7 Types Of Toxic Bosses
1. The Toxic Diva and Div-an
The Diva (female) and Div-an (male) are willing to work great employees at full speed and then take credit for their work. They bask in the accolades more deserved of a team effort, not their lack of effort (after all they are the brains behind your successes). They demand absolute obedience from their people and when they don’t get it, are quick to stab you in the back to ensure you have no future in the company.
2. The Toxic Office King or Queen
Nothing is good enough for these toxic bosses who see themselves sitting on a throne all day. You could call them office royalty where nothing but the best is good enough for them. They blindly expect deferential treatment, total loyalty, and adoration from their employee subjects. If you report to office royalty, expect at any moment the royal sword could fall upon you if you dare to present them with news they don’t want to hear.
3. The Toxic Covert Bomber
These toxic bosses are dangerous because they can spot any weaknesses in you a mile away. They plan attacks looking to enact revenge and retribution for even the slightest opinion voiced against their pet projects. They love to stoke the fire and evoke infighting to prove their worth as the ‘appointed leader.’ Manipulators of the first degree, they want those on their team who will annihilate the opposition creating a culture where only the strongest survive (regardless of unethical or immoral behavior).
4. The Stiletto and Sword Toxic Bosses
Yes, you’ve all experienced the schoolyard bully who when left to their own devices knows how to manipulate and cajole their way to the top position. The bully in stilettos knows how to subliminally bully others in a manner their male counterparts don’t even know a bully-shot was fired. You know, the passive-aggressive actions, the stony glare, and backhanded compliments all designed to humiliate you.
Male bully bosses are more overt and with their superior swordsmanship they will cut you off at the knees with isolation tactics, verbal harassment, sexual harassment, and office pranks set to discredit and demean those working for them. Why? Because they can!
5. The Toxic Confidant
You may think they have your back, but no – they don’t. They share information about pending organizational change as a ruse to suck information from you about what employees really think just so that they can use their power for a pre-emptive attack on your credibility. Remember if they share ‘confidential information’ about others, they are also sharing confidential information about you.
6. The Toxic Blamer
You are going to love this toxic boss – when anything ever goes wrong, they never accept responsibly for their poor decision making. Move out the way quickly or you will get the blame and if you already have got the blame (even though it wasn’t your fault) your days are numbered.
7. The Toxic Silencer
Put a silencer on a gun and you don’t hear the pop! These toxic bosses refuse to keep any of their people in the loop therefore employees fill the gap with information that is missing as they gossip and speculate about what happens next. Eventually, you hear the bang as the silencer falls off and you get left with picking the pieces from the fallout – silence is not always golden!
Tongue in cheek, these toxic bosses do exist. They live in denial (of the facts that is) when employee retention is at an all-time low as they ignore high levels of employee turnover and their bottom-line results are falling – yet they are smart enough to abandon a sinking ship, find another company to work for where their toxic management style begins all over again.
Symptoms You Are Working For A Toxic Boss
The easiest way to understand if you are working for a toxic boss is to check in with your feelings. Are you feeling frustrated, humiliated, ignored, cut down, and dread going into the office? If so chances are you are working for a toxic boss!
You might even begin to think there’s something wrong with you, it is all your fault, your work is not up to par and you should be able to handle it. DON’T!
Don’t let anyone ‘should’ on you! Repeated mistreatment by your boss is plain and simple workplace bullying and you must protect yourself for if you don’t, you could end up with a psychological injury.
Here are 12 signs you are working for a toxic boss.
- Your ideas and concerns fall on deaf ears.
- Your boss doesn’t walk the talk.
- They are never wrong.
- They are micromanagers.
- They work long long hours expecting you to do the same.
- They take the credit but not the responsibility.
- They gossip and spread innuendo.
- They work more at being liked than leading.
- They look out for number one!
- They do not respect others.
- They play favorites.
- They are moody.
The Bully And The Boss
Workplace bullying is more common than you think – it is toxic and nothing short of emotional abuse. Behaviors including threatening, intimidating, humiliating, including verbal abuse, and work sabotage is the very definition of workplace bullying.
According to the Workplace Bullying Institute, 19% of adults are bullied at work. Over 60.3 million workers in the US are affected by bullying and 65% of those are women. Over 70% of workplace bullies are men and 65% of workers lost their jobs when they tried to report the bullies!
Over 40% of those who experience workplace bullying experience ongoing stress-related health problems that include panic attacks, debilitating anxiety with 39% also experiencing depression.
The best time to flush out a toxic boss is before you accept that job offer or promotion. You might think this is easier said than done – especially with so many people unemployed at this time and after all you NEED that job. Ask questions during the interview process about retention and culture, the answers will give you a clue as to if you are going into a toxic work environment.
Dealing With The Toxic Boss
Understand the bully is an insecure manipulative person who never went beyond childhood tantrums. Make sure you document everything – everything with times, places and witnesses if there are any! It may be your only defense if you lose your job or wish to make a formal complaint.
Bullies love to see people cower before them so at every opportunity adopt assertive body language. Lift your chin and your chest and turn your body side-one to communicate you are open to talking not being intimidating.
Write down your thoughts and keep a journal documenting what tactics work and what don’t against the bully boss. Acknowledge your feelings whatever they might be – tell yourself it’s ok to feel angry, frustrated, but not ok to be humiliated, cut down, or marginalized.
Take your ‘documented’ concerns to HR and advise any other superiors you may have and confront them with the facts (times, places, who said what). They cannot run away from the written word whereas they can choose not to hear you. Explain the impact their behavior has on you in relation to your productivity. This they understand better than stress, emotional wellbeing, and mental health – all these emotions are important, it just needs to be framed how it affects performance. Before approaching HR, check the company policies and definitions around bullying in the workplace to find out what the process is in reporting toxic behavior and bullying in the workplace.
Seek professional help, many companies provide a free employee assistance program that allows you to talk to trained psychologists about your concerns in the workplace.
If nothing else is working, consider looking for a job elsewhere. It may be your only salvation.
On a Final Note
Consider the wider implication of working for a toxic boss and the damage it does to your emotional, physical, and mental wellbeing. There is such a thing as a psychological injury caused by toxic bosses and coworkers.
In the short term, you might have a job, in the long term you might not have a life. Ongoing depression, panic attacks, ongoing anxiety can cause you loss of confidence, loss of self-esteem, loss of the ability to ever work again – very real consequences of the after-effects of workplace bullying and working for a toxic boss.
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