10 Signs You Have A Toxic Boss (And What To Do About It) (2023)

We spend about a third of our entire lives at work.

In fact, an HP survey found that 56% of people say they spend more time with their "work family" than their real family.

That's bad news if your boss is a bit of an idiot.

A bad relationship with your manager can cause stress, low job satisfaction, low morale and less dedication to your job.

Do you have a toxic boss? And more importantly, what should you do about it?

Let's find out…

How do I know if my boss is toxic?

1) They are not open to comments or ideas

It's really challenging to deal with a boss who always thinks he's right.

One manager the closelistening to employee suggestions points to some negative things:

  • They are bad listeners
  • They are closed minded
  • They have a fragile ego that cannot take criticism.
  • They have a 'my way or the highway' approach

Businesses thrive best when everyone contributes. That broad experience is really valuable.

Feeling that your thoughts, opinions, and ideas are not valued can quickly rob you of your intrinsic motivation. As well as the next on our list…

2) They don't give you autonomy

Nobody wants to be micromanaged. You are no longer in kindergarten.

So it's disheartening to be treated like a child who needs constant supervision.

Research has shown that we need a certain amount to feel purposeful and fulfilledautonomy in our professional life.

You can't do that if your boss is constantly looking over your shoulder and trying to control everything you do.

3) They have a "do as I say, not as I do" attitude

It's one rule for everyone, but a very different one for them.

They call you to the office to complain if you are 30 seconds late. However, they will happily stop early or take their time for lunch when it suits them.

Hypocrisy can be irritating if your boss doesn't practice what he preaches. It robs you of respect for them in the process.

Some Toxic Bosses feel that their position gives them rights that others cannot enjoy.

Because they watch you like a hawk, they take no responsibility.

4) They never raise their hands for their mistakes

Another consequence of evading personal responsibility is a refusal to admit mistakes.

If they slip, they avoid it.

They may ignore you completely, make excuses ortry to shift the blameentirely elsewhere.

Because if there's one thing they're good at, it's blaming.

5) They find mistakes quickly, but never give compliments

A toxic boss uses the stick much more than the carrot.

My point is that they are quick (and even rash) to demote you or highlight perceived shortcomings. But they never seem to acknowledge good work.

Showing appreciation is essential for workplace morale.

Studiesproven that employees who feel valued perform better and stay with the company longer.

6) They offer no support or opportunity for growth

They clearly don't care about your well being.

You do not feel supported at work. They do not encourage progress or growth; in fact, they actively discourage it.

You would like to take on more responsibility, but your role remains the same. Your boss has made it clear that there are no development opportunities for you.

7) They behave differently depending on who is around

Insincerity is always quite evident when people treat others differently depending on their so-called "status".

Maybe your boss is charming and nice when the line manager is around. However, with their subordinates, they can be rude, bad-tempered and downright unreasonable.

Or maybe they have favorites at work and treat some people better than others.

8) They burden you with unreasonable time constraints or unrealistic expectations

One of the biggest causes of burnout is a boss who doesn't realize we have limited time, energy and resources.

They create an unmanageable workloadit makes you feel under constant pressure.

You may be asked to work to impossible deadlines. You are expected to drop everything else to achieve something for your boss.

You feel that your time is not respected and that your work-life boundaries are constantly crossed.

9) They say or do inappropriate things

Unprofessional comments or behavior can appear in several ways:

  • sarcastic remarks
  • passive aggression
  • Cruel "jokes" at your expense
  • Flirty or creepy compliments
  • Be very dismissive or ignore you
  • invade personal space

A boss who has little emotional intelligence or interpersonal skills may be insensitive or downright inappropriate.

They have no idea or, as our next sign suggests, have delusions of grandeur.

10) They make it all about themselves or take credit for other people's good work

Bosses with a big ego may want to be in the spotlight.

They mistakenly think that being in charge isabout being central. It's really about bringing out the best in others and leading.

Instead of acknowledging the efforts of their team or individuals, they prefer to bask in the glory.

What to do if you have a toxic boss?

1) Drop your ego

I'm not trying to blame you, or even suggest that you are part of the problem.

But here's the thing:

The greatest influence any of us has is on ourselves. Our attitude will give us back some of our peace of mind or make us feel even worse.

So make sure yours does the first and not the second.

If you want to have a high moral status, you must know howcontrol your emotionsas much as possible.

Do your best to distance yourself from how your boss acts. Don't take it personally. Do your job the best you can and leave your ego at the door.

2) Feel sorry for them

Not taking the shitty behavior of others personally is easier said than done. But the reality is that many toxic bosses tend to be insecure and lack self-awareness.

A helpful rewording to take out some of your anger or frustration towards them might be pity.

See your failures as an unfortunate reflection of them and be thankful that you know better. Of course, that doesn't mean you shouldn't also take practical steps...

3) Give them the benefit of the doubt and offer constructive feedback

It takes courage.

Any time there is a hierarchy, it can be intimidating to have honest conversations about how you feel.

Is there a possibility that your boss is unaware of your actions and how they are received?

In that case, a conversation can help. There is, of course, a right and wrong way to do this.

Be professional, polite and make sure your feedback is constructive.

4) Be clear and direct in your communication

If a Toxic Boss has a habit of pulling strings or being vague, get him to state his expectations and vice versa.

Everyone needs to know where they are.

For example, after a conversation, send a follow-up email describing and identifying what they want and what you've agreed to.

5) Strengthen your boundaries

It's a sad reality that people sometimes treat us the way we allow them to.

Again, this is not about blaming yourself, but about focusing on the power we have in our relationships.

You can't control what your boss says and does, only how you respond.

Consider what you think are reasonable expectations. Start saying no to unreasonable demands.

For example:

  • I'm already overworked, so I can't take on another project right now
  • I would help if I could, but I can't change that Saturday shift because I have plans.
  • I will be out of the office until Monday, so I will not respond to emails until then.

6) Stay clear

If your boss is a bit of an idiot, you can protect yourself by staying away from him as much as possible.

Although not a total solution, it can be practical to reduce its impact on you. Keep all your actions as professional and brief as possible.

7) Know that you are developing valuable skills

Your toxic boss teaches you some useful life lessons.

Sure, it's a sweet twist, but see it as an opportunity to develop your own people management.

How can you develop your own communication skills, patience, resilience and adaptability?

8) Look for other allies and support

Focus on creating nurturing connections at work that feel good.

You will need that support, and there is strength in numbers. They may feel the same way you do about their boss.

9) Keep records of improper transactions

If your boss is toxic on the highest level, you may want to start cataloging his behavior.

Keep a detailed record of the inappropriate things they say and do, along with the times and places they occur. You may need it one day.

When documenting things, avoid private conversations without witnesses. Remember that emails create better records.

10) Get help or leave

If you find yourself in a situation that has become unmanageable, you may need to act decisively.

This may include going over your boss's head and taking the matter to the line manager. It can go to HR or your union if you have one.

You might decide to look for another job and get out of there.

After all, it is said that most employees do not leave companies, but their bosses.


When should you stand up to your boss? ›

You should stand up to your boss in a one-on-one meeting with them – not in front of others. Ideally, you should schedule this meeting during a relative down time in the office, when the boss isn't dealing with some kind of crisis, Dewett said.

How do you know if your boss is Gaslighting? ›

The gaslighting statement may come as a response to a question you asked. He may scoff at you or imply you've asked an obvious or ridiculous question. In some cases, your boss may directly question your performance ability by comparing you unfairly to co-workers who've held the same position longer than you have.

What are toxic employer behaviors? ›

Common behaviors include bullying, yelling, manipulating and belittling. Employees in a toxic work environment may be nervous to speak their minds, raise concerns or share thoughts because they are worried about being rejected or reprimanded.


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