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11 things that bad bosses do wrong

Last updated on: November 27, 2014 18:40 IST
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Earlier this week, we brought you this list of things that great bosses do right

Virender Kapoor, author of A Wonderful Boss: Great People to Work With, lists out 11 things that bad bosses do wrong.

People don't quit jobs, Virender Kapoor says, they quit bosses.

Kapoor has been the director of Pune's Symbiosis Institute of Management and the founder of Management Institute for Leadership and Excellence.

He has authored several books on topics as varied as management, technology and workplace issues.

His latest, A Wonderful Boss, narrates true stories about bosses and their teams offering insights into the minds of the decision makers as well as their subordinates.

Speaking to, Kapoor lists out the 11 things that bad bosses do wrong:

1. Bad bosses encourage politicking

Politicking always starts from the top.

No subordinate will ever backbite a colleague before their boss unless the boss is encouraging it.

The easiest way to stop it is to tell such a subordinate to shut up because remember you are the boss!

Only bosses who are insecure play politics.

They aren't sure of their jobs and competence and so they divide their people into groups and let them fight.

Bad bosses also don't realise that it is this very culture that will come to bite them in the back.

2. Bad bosses work in black and white mode

A bad boss is one who has strong likes and dislikes.

S/he will either hate you or love you and depending on it, you will either be in the black bucket or the white one.

Once you're in the black bucket, you are written off and if not, you can do nothing wrong.

Now, imagine the horror of working for such a person if you've rubbed them the wrong way!

3. A bad boss is a 'Banana Boss'

Like dictators of banana republics, a bad boss will never pass down the perks he receives.

If it's a club membership or a junket or a lucrative seminar or even a foreign posting -- a bad boss will either keep it to herself/himself or only hand it down to his coterie of blue-eyed boys.

4. A bad boss becomes a bottleneck

Boss has to be a facilitator; s/he should not block the way of progress.

A bad boss causes a bottleneck by being indecisive.

Let us take an example of someone seeking an approval of to finalise a dealer from their boss.

A bad boss will not bother to respond to the email and keep not just his colleague on tenterhooks but also the entire supply chain.

A good boss will decide and respond. Or if s/he cannot do it immediately, will let his colleague know that.

Several of us do not acknowledge receipt of the emails we receive. It is crucial to let the other person know that you've read what they want you to read and that you are working on it.

Remember, a bottleneck is at the top of the bottle not at the bottom! :-)

5. A bad boss expects a perfect subordinate

Not all five fingers are alike. So don't expect all your subordinates to be superheroes.

If they were, what would be your job as a boss?

Your acumen as a boss is to understand each person's strength.

As a boss you have to learn to make the most of that.

Don't demand for your team to be changed; instead work towards making the most of your team's positives!

Remember, bosses get paid to manage people not crib about how bad they are.

Which brings us to the next point...

6. Bad bosses hurt people emotionally

Don't insult your subordinates. Apart from being a terrible thing to do, you will have several disgruntled people around you.

It is one thing if you hurt someone unintentionally (if you do, apologise immediately) and another thing altogether to do it on purpose.

If you humiliate someone in public, they will never forget the incident and they will never forgive you.

7. A bad boss over-centralises and micromanages

A bad boss likes to control the smallest things.

It is one thing if it is a turnaround period or if you've joined an organisation with the express purpose of sorting out a mess.

But centralisation and micromanagement should not remain a permanent style

Let go of control; let people start working on their own.

Delegate, brief and monitor; don't micromanage.

8. A bad boss doesn't have faith in her/his team

This is an extension of the previous point. Learn to give your team more autonomy; groom your second in command.

You are not going to be around for ever; you may want to take a few days off or you may fall sick. Surely you cannot expect all work to wait in the interim?

Put your faith in your team and keep the second string ready.

9. A bad boss expects zero errors

It is one thing attempting to reduce errors but it is not possible to have absolutely zero errors simply because there are many things that are not in your control.

The key here is to have a contingency plan.

Yes you need to minimise errors but don't hang people for small mistakes.

Don't let a mistake be repeated; instead learn from it.

The best way to identify mistakes and learn from them is by drawing up an after-action report -- a docket that will list out the learnings and mistakes so the next team that takes up a similar project doesn't repeat them.

10. A bad boss confuses the team

I cannot stress how important this is.

It is crucial that you are first clear about the direction you want them to take.

It is equally important that you explain that to them just as clearly.

Brief them to the last comma and full stop so there is no mistake.

A bad boss is someone who is unclear of the goal, unclear of how to go about achieving it and ambiguous while explaining it to her/his colleagues.

11. A bad boss is someone who promises and doesn't deliver

If you've been at the receiving end at a promise that was never kept, you'd probably know what I am saying.

Don't be that person.

Don't promise a promotion to a colleague unless you're sure you'll be able to swing it for her/him.

Don't promise her/him that junket or that lucrative posting unless you actually can.

That being said if you believe s/he deserves it, go all out to get it for them.

Be that boss.

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