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What kind of boss are you? Are you a good one? Or are you a difficult boss whom your employees hate or fear? If you hold any position of power with a team of employees reporting to you, it is vital to take the time to evaluate what type of boss you are. And it will not be easy.

As a leader, you usually have to be a lot of things in the workplace, from being a mentor, a trainer, a consultant, and a supervisor, among others. But this is not an excuse to make your employees’ jobs unbearable. Read on to learn the signs that you are a difficult boss and how you can change and be a better leader.

Signs You Are a Difficult Boss

  1. You micromanage your employees

No employee likes to work under a boss who is always hovering over their shoulder, micromanaging them. If they get such a boss, they may lack motivation, feel disengaged, be less creative, and feel suffocated in the workplace. A boss who micromanages their employees often limits their growth.

So, how do you know you are a micromanager? Check if you have the following traits, they could be signs you are a difficult boss who micromanages their team;

  • Delegating tasks to your employees is challenging for you.
  • When you do assign tasks to your team, you constantly monitor their progress and offer suggestions.
  • You keep correcting your employee’s tasks, thus not allowing them to take risks and learn from their mistakes
  • You always request the employees to allow you to review their work before they can have the opportunity to declare it done and email it to you or present it. 

How to change and be a better boss

Does this sound like you? It is time you learned how to stop being a bad boss. To stop micromanaging your team, start by trusting them to get the job done. Delegate heavier assignments to the employees and allow them to make mistakes and learn from them.

Finally, only coach or correct your employees when they come to you for help. It will help the employees to enhance their skills and be more confident. It will also give you an opportunity to spend more time on other tasks.

READ ALSO: 5 Ways to Encourage Your Co-worker at Work

  1. Your communication skills are lacking 
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Communication plays a key role in any relationship, even your work relationships. If you usually keep the communication line between you and your employees closed or challenging to get through, that is a sign you are a difficult boss. Other signs you communicate poorly with your employees are;

  • You don’t inform them about the status of their projects
  • You don’t let them know about new developments in the company. 
  • You fail to give the information they need to make decisions. 
  • You give unclear and contradictory instructions that leave them confused. 

How to change and be a better boss

You can stop being a difficult boss by ensuring you are always on the same page with your employees. Provide clear information about the organization’s objectives and what you expect of them. Maintain an open line of communication where employees can raise their concerns without fear of judgment and receive feedback. For example, you can communicate via emails, in-person conversations, or through a suggestion box.

READ ALSO: 5 Ways to Be More Vulnerable with People (and the Benefits of Vulnerability)

  1. You never give positive feedback

How do you react when the employees submit their work for you to review? If you usually only have negative things to say, such as pointing out mistakes and other areas they should improve or change, these could be signs you are a difficult boss. The employees will feel demoralized and perform poorly at work.

How to change and be a better boss

When giving feedback, start by acknowledging what the employee has done well or how they have improved since their last performance review. Next, let them know what areas need change, improvement, or correction. By giving balanced feedback, the employees will feel motivated to keep up the good work and increase productivity.

  1. You are inconsistent

Are you the kind of leader who often changes their mind? Here are some examples of inconsistencies that are signs you are a difficult boss;

  • You have different rules for different employees. 
  • Similar errors have varying disciplinary actions. 
  • The promotion criteria changes from team member to team member. 
  • You make different suggestions in each meeting. 
  • There are no standard company policies or best practices. 

How to be a more consistent leader

To stop being a difficult boss, you must regain your employees’ trust in your leadership by coming up with standard rules, policies, and best practices. Avoid confusing and frustrating your employees by ensuring you give consistent instructions and advice in all meetings. If possible, pin a set of rules and regulations in a place where all the team members can easily see them every day.

READ ALSO: 5 Ways to Make People Have More Confidence in You

  1. You are resistant to change
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Whenever your employees suggest new ideas and strategies to tackle a particular problem or achieve the organization’s goals, you shoot them down. You want to keep doing things the way you have always done them. And though the old ways may still work, you could be limiting or stagnating the growth of your organization.

Some signs that you are a difficult boss who is resistant to change include;

  • Failure to accommodate new ideas. 
  • Not considering suggestions raised by employees. 
  • Being comfortable sticking to the way you have always done things.
  • Continuing to use outdated methods even though there are newer strategies and tools.
  • Hiring non-innovative employees.
  • You fear empowering current employees. 

How to improve and be a better boss

If you want to be a better leader, you must empower your employees through training and career development programs. Also, employ innovative people who can bring new ideas to the organization.

To stop being a difficult boss, you also need to acknowledge that change is inevitable and critical when you want to increase employee productivity. So, encourage your team members to feel free to suggest new things and also, be open-minded to others’ ideas.

READ ALSO: 10 Signs You Are Stuck in The Past and Why It Happens

  1. You don’t respect the employees’ personal time

Do you make your employees feel like they are always on the clock? Perhaps you often call them to work or about things related to work at any time, even on weekends and when they are spending time with their families. If this sounds like you, it is time to change and become a better leader.

Here are some other signs you are a difficult boss who doesn’t respect the employees’ personal time; 

  • You are a supporter of hustle culture and expect your employees to be doing work-related tasks 24/7, even though their employment terms don’t say so. 
  • You assign your employees additional tasks a few minutes before office closing time. 
  • You call them about work-related stuff during their time off. 

How to change and be a better boss

If you want to stop being a difficult boss to work for, find ways to enable your employees to establish a work-life balance. For example, you could encourage them to spend more time with their families, practice self-care, and to take breaks from work to go on vacation or do other things.

Giving your employees time to rest, recharge, and have fun will result in them performing even better when they go back to work. So, ensure you respect employee personal time by not calling them about work during their time off.

If the employee is on leave, on the weekends, and during the other times they are not supposed to work, e.g. before 8 am or after 5 pm on weekdays, come up with arrangements on how communications should be done without intruding into their personal time.

  1. You always blame others

If you are the kind of person who always thinks you are right and everyone else is doing something wrong, that is one of the signs you are a difficult boss. Other indicators of a bad leader include;

  • Always pointing out what others are doing wrong. 
  • Never admitting your mistakes and always blaming them on others.
  • Lacking personal accountability. 

How to change and be a better boss

To stop being a difficult boss, adopt the values of honesty and integrity. Learn to apologize when you wrong others or make mistakes and quit blaming others when things don’t go your way. You should remind yourself that, as a team, the failure of one employee means failure for the entire team.

As the leader, there are even times you may have to take the blame for your team’s failure. So, instead of pointing fingers, look for solutions and make mistakes teachable moments. You want your team to feel like they are not just working for you, but with you towards common goals.

Final Thoughts

You now know the signs of a difficult boss, and perhaps, the descriptions sounded like you. You realize that you may have unknowingly demoralized your team members and jeopardized the success of your organization. However, you don’t have to keep beating yourself up over it. No one is perfect, and it is not too late for you to change and be a better leader.

Since you have identified the signs you are a difficult boss early enough, you can start working toward becoming a better boss. You only need to use the above tips and be keener on keeping your team and organization’s interests above your own. When you become a better boss, you will boost employee performance and engagement, and you will not only be admired by your team but also by other leaders.


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