#leadership

Horrible Bosses: How NOT To Be One

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|Jan 29|magazine7 min read

In the movie Horrible Bosses, Jennifer Aniston, Kevin Spacey and Colin Farrell are truly, undeniably horrible bosses. The posters for the movie describe the characters as a “sex-crazed maneater,” a “slave-driving psycho” and a “total sleazy tool.” We’ve all had our fair share of horrible bosses, but hopefully yours weren’t—or aren’t—as terrible as these caricatures.

We also hope, bosses who are reading this, that you aren’t horrible either (it can sometimes be hard to tell in the first-person perspective). From managers all the way up to CEOs, bosses and leaders have a lot of different people to try and keep happy. And while this in itself is usually enough work to make up a full-time job, the rest of a boss’s job is so much more. It can sometimes be too easy to wander down the horrible path, but we’re here to bring you back.

It can’t all be a priority: provide guidance to those below you.

This seems obvious, I know. But like boyfriends often say, “I can’t guess what you’re thinking, you have to tell me.” Your employees operate more or less the same way. Even the most independent, self-sustaining worker needs some direction to start out. An employee with no guidance and who is told that everything is a priority will get frustrated and overwhelmed. This leads to potentially higher turnover rate and little to no respect for those in positions of power.

The work—not office politics—comes first.

For some, all that matters at the end of the day are the promotions and raises. This is all fine and good, except for when your work suffers. That may sound counter-intuitive (don’t you have to do good work to get a promotion?), but too many times it’s more about office politics than it is being good at your job. Employees appreciate a manager or boss who is slugging through the trenches with them, being a problem-solver and getting their own work done. Several-hour lunches with higher ups, taking credit for work that isn’t yours or pawning your own work off on someone else will get you nowhere with those below you, and they will continue to resent you the higher you climb on other people’s work.

Micromanaging: Just. Don’t. Do. It.

Yes, I know, I just said you need to guide your team. But this doesn’t mean that you have to be cc’ed on every single email, have their schedule for their day planned out to the T or be looking over their shoulder all the time. Leading is a game of give and take. Give the members of your team the freedom if they deserve it, reign in others more tightly as necessary. It’s one thing to manage a team, it’s a completely other thing to micromanage. No one likes explaining their five-minute Pinterest breaks between projects (guilty) or why their 10 minute break was 12 minutes long. The more questions along this line you ask your employees, the they’ll ask about why they work for you.