What Does a Bad Boss Look Like?
When you get your first job, you discover what it means to have a boss. This person oversees what you do. If you are lucky, your boss has the experience and can guide you on navigating your new job.
I got lucky, big time. My first boss owned a project management business in the commercial construction sector. I started working for him fresh out of university, and I knew nothing about the real world. He took me under his wing and exposed me to the whole spectrum of the construction industry. I went to every meeting with him. I was part of the planning and executing of some of the most significant commercial developments in the city. It was an incredible learning curve. Not only did I learn about construction, but I also learnt about managing professional teams, and I learnt about myself. I discovered the activities that I loved and those that I despised. I learnt to lead with humility, and I learnt how to tell when I was being lied to. Something common in the construction sector is where professionals and contractors are over-committed and under severe time pressure.
Having a great boss can set you up in your career. Having a bad boss can destroy you. Being able to tell the difference and having the confidence to trust your judgement are valuable skills.
A great boss will encourage you to take a risk and always have your back. They will push out of your comfort zone just far enough for you to learn and explore. A great boss will give you the latitude to think for yourself and the guidance to nudge you back on track. A great boss knows when to get out of the way and knows that they have succeeded when they are no longer required.
A bad boss takes all the credit and hangs you out to dry. A bad boss doesn’t know when to get out of the way. They micro-manage and are unclear on their expectations. A bad boss creates busy work for the sake of being seen to do something. A bad boss has a big ego that is threatened when employees ask questions that challenge their methods.
Most people think that it is the boss who manages employees but learning how to manage your boss can save your career when you have a bad boss. This can be very complex, depending on the environment you work in. Building a network of allies is important to test your thinking with others you trust.
To survive a bad boss, you need to be meticulous in your record-keeping, and you need to be as specific as possible in your communication. A bad boss will hide behind their vagueness because often, they don’t know any better. You need to be one step ahead of a bad boss and always looking for a way out so that you can work for someone else.
Justin Spencer-Young Twitter: @fastforwardjsy