The experience of less-than-ideal work situations are common, and the global pandemic has likely heightened challenges for bosses and employees alike. How can mediocre or outright hostile leadership impact your ability to work well?
This flowchart from Resume.io helps you figure out if you’ve got a toxic boss weighing you down. It covers seven archetypes of toxic bosses, and how to respond to each one.
The 7 Types of Toxic Bosses
Barbara Kellerman, a professor of public leadership at the Harvard Kennedy School identifies seven types of toxic bosses that can exist.
|Number||Toxic Boss Type||Description|
|#1||Incompetent Boss||Unable or unwilling to do their job well|
|#2||Rigid Boss||Confuses inflexibility with strength|
|#3||Intemperate Boss||Lacks self-knowledge and self-control|
|#4||Callous Boss||Lacks empathy and kindness|
|#5||Corrupt Boss||Steals or cheats to promote their own interests|
|#6||Insular Boss||Is cliquish or unreachable|
|#7||Evil Boss||Causes pain to further their sense of power and dominance|
Some bosses simply don’t have the capacity to do their jobs, which makes it more difficult for their employees. Others can be corrupt or callous, creating a highly unmotivating work environment.
But how many people are in this situation?
To give a few quick examples, around 13% of all employees in Europe work under a toxic boss. In the U.S., a whopping 75% say they have left a job primarily because of a bad boss.
What’s so Bad about a Bad Boss?
Bosses can make or break your job experience. Having a toxic boss can cause your quality of work to suffer, which can then trickle down to impact your overall career.
In fact, Harvard Business Review found that a toxic work environment can lead to decreased motivation and employee disengagement. This has significant knock-on effects such as:
- 37% higher absenteeism
- 60% more errors in their work
- 18% lower productivity
According to the same study, this can cause companies to have 16% lower profitability and a 65% lower share price over time.
The physical side effects are not to be underestimated, either. One Swedish study found that a bad boss who increases your job strain can, in tandem, increase your chance of cardiac arrest by 50%. Additionally, a study out of Stanford found that mismanagement in the American workplace and subsequent stress could potentially be responsible for 120,000 deaths per year.
Tips to Deal with a Toxic Boss
Bad bosses can hurt the company, the overall work environment, and can impact your professional growth and personal health.
So, what can you do about it?
|Number||Toxic Boss Type||Solution|
|#1||Incompetent Boss||Use initiative|
|#2||Rigid Boss||Use the power of persuasion|
|#3||Intemperate Boss||Look for opportunities|
|#4||Callous Boss||Ask for a 1-on-1 meeting|
|#5||Corrupt Boss||Find co-workers who share your concerns|
|#6||Insular Boss||Offer them opportunities to open up|
|#7||Evil Boss||Take a stand|
Different kinds of bosses require different approaches, and some simply aren’t worth putting up with. For instance, taking initiative with an incompetent boss is one relatively easy solution, but having a 1-on-1 with a callous boss takes more effort. An evil boss requires intervention from HR.
If you don’t have a toxic boss, consider yourself lucky. Here are two ways to keep your working relationship strong:
- Take initiative
- Keep up open communication
- Ask for constant feedback so you know where you stand
- Under-promise and over-deliver
What Can Bosses Do?
Toxic bosses can have disastrous consequences on employees and companies. According to one Gallup survey, at minimum, 75% of the reasons for voluntary turnover can be influenced by managers.
After looking at some of the ways employees can address toxic bosses, how can bosses ensure their work environment is healthy? Harvard Business Review recommends four main things:
- Encourage social connections
- Show empathy
- Go out of your way to help
- Encourage employees to talk to you—especially about their problems
The future of work may be changing, with remote work becoming more popular and feasible. This can pose problems in creating a strong work culture.
However, if bosses and employees can work together to foster a positive and healthy work environment, everyone, including the bottom line, will benefit.