People don’t leave bad jobs, they leave bad bosses — but sometimes it’s not so black and white. Almost everyone has had a less than great manager at some point in their career but there are certain characteristics that may actually suggest you might be dealing with a toxic boss.
We spend so much time in the office that handling a negative work environment should be nipped in the bud as quickly as possible, and that starts with identifying whether your boss is the problem. To help you figure out your next move, we spoke to HR experts and career coaches to get their most commonly reported signs of a toxic boss. Here, the five signs to look for — and exactly how to handle it from there.
You don’t enjoy going to work anymore.
“One of the most telling signs of a toxic boss is how one feels when he or she goes to work and when they leave at the end of the day,” explains Betty Rodriguez, Senior Workplace Analyst. “Professionals that work in toxic environments don’t generally look forward to being in the workplace, and while some can love what they do and have great relationships with their peers, that doesn’t mean they can’t hate their boss.”
You’re functioning at a heightened state of anxiety.
It’s no secret that workplace toxicity translates into decreased motivation, fear of retaliation, and little to no trust within teams. Yet employees who grow to resent their toxic boss can devolve from a general state of annoyance to heightened states of anxiety – so much so that affected employees can believe after some time that any feedback or questions from their boss are personal attacks.
Your boss is constantly making huge promises… but nothing ever comes of them.
If your boss is constantly flashing a promotion in front of you without any sign of it coming to fruition, watch out. “Constantly making huge promises without coming through with them is a sign that your boss is either delusionally optimistic or, worse, trying to use fantasy visions to distract employees from the reality that the environment isn’t healthy,” explains Sean Sessel, author of Soulfire: Break Out of a Burnout Job and Craft a Career That Inspires You.
You have a ton of responsibility… without any autonomy.
If you are responsible for an outcome without having the ability to make decisions that determine that outcome, your ability to do your job is in someone else’s hands. “Some bosses will give responsibility without autonomy to try to maintain control while always being able to pass blame if things don’t work out.” explains Sessel.
You’re having trouble with your boss, chances are you’re not alone and there is nothing more helpful than the support of other people who are dealing with the same toxic behavior.
While some HR teams will provide tools and strategies for employees to feel prepared, managers should also be required to attend management training for strategies for effective coaching and communication to ensure that the toxicity level in the workplace doesn’t rise to an unbearable amount.