These are all signs of a dysfunctional workplace, but you know what? Workplaces don't become dysfunctional by themselves. People make them that way. More specifically, management people: CEOs, VPs, middle managers, your boss. Know how to spot them? Here's a handy guide, but there's a surprise at the end.
20 Ways to Spot a Dysfunctional Manager
- Rants like a raving lunatic.
- Tells you to do something you don't want to do, blames you when it goes south.
- Freaks out over nothing, but when disaster strikes, becomes eerily calm.
- Says she wants you to take responsibility, then publicly overrides your decisions.
- Intimidates with aggressive words and posture, backs down like a wimp when confronted by a bigger bully.
- Spends more time covering his ass than he does sitting on it.
- Verbally approves new requisitions, later denies doing it, aka selective memory.
- Laughs uncomfortably at inappropriate times.
- Makes hallway decisions that affect your group -- when you're not there.
- A single data point sends him off in a completely new direction.
- Gives in when pushed into a corner, then does what she wants anyway, aka passive aggressive.
- Swoops into meetings and takes over.
- Revels in the invention of creative curses for just the right occasion.
- Gets way, way too personal.
- Sticks you right in the middle of feuds with his peers.
- Rides you mercilessly while pet employees can do no wrong.
- Fanatically obsessive about minutia.
- Always right: when confronted with mistakes, blames them on someone else.
- Fiercely protective of dumb pet projects.
- At the first sign of trouble throws allies under the bus.
Almost forgot, I promised you a surprise at the end. Well, you know how I know all this about dysfunctional managers? Well, not only have I observed all this behavior in others, but I've done half of this stuff myself! Top that for honesty.
UPDATE: Some of you pointed out that identifying a bad boss is the easy part. Successfully dealing with one is the real trick. So here's my follow-up: How to Survive a Dysfunctional Manager.