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My Boss is Making Me Crazy

The top reason why people quit their jobs is not money-related. In the vast majority of cases, it is because of bad leadership — specifically, a bad boss.

Bad bosses take many forms, but the common thread is that their attitudes and behaviours make their employees less productive, less committed and very unhappy. 

Poor leadership behaviors can include, but are not restricted to:

1. Being inconsistent

If workplace expectations are a constantly moving target, it can be very difficult to please your boss. It breeds a sense of instability and insecurity, or just plain frustration with the lack of decisiveness.

2. Being overly harsh, or outright mean

Some bosses lack tact, while others seem to believe it is their right or role to communicate in as brutal as manner as possible. The former is exasperating, the latter is demoralizing.

3. Problems with anger

Feeling like you have to constantly walk on eggshells to avoid setting off a boss with a furious temper is exhausting. Raging anger is rarely — if at all — an appropriate response to workplace problems. It only wounds and humiliates people.

4. Playing favorites

If you are not a favorite, you may miss out on promotions, opportunities to work on good projects, access to information, and more. If you are a favorite, you may feel like you have to behave in a way that protects your preferred status, which may not be true your values or self. Neither is ideal.

5. Micromanaging

Scrutinizing all aspects of their employee’s work communicates one thing only: that they do not trust their staff to do their jobs properly. It destroys confidence.

6. Manipulating

Bosses who play employees against each other, who dangle promotions or other benefits in front of employees as incentives and then take them away, are manipulators. Their behaviour can range from dishonest and unfair to Machiavellian.

7. Being unethical

Some bosses make decisions or act in a manner that is unprincipled and unethical, putting the entire workplace at risk. Employees in these settings can feel trapped, damned if they do report the problem, and damned if they don’t blow the whistle.

No one is perfect, including bosses. But these types of issues, when constant and extreme, can place real stress on employees. For those who must deal with put-downs, a destabilizing lack of consistency, furious outbursts and other difficult behaviour, it is not uncommon to:

  • feel stressed out and anxious
  • have crying fits
  • loose confidence in themselves and their abilities, and feel worthless and stupid
  • experience panic attacks, often the night before work
  • have sleep difficulties, including nightmares or insomnia
  • have physical symptoms of stress, such as headaches, nausea or ulcers
  • become depressed
  • have suicidal thoughts

If you live in Hong Kong, and find you are having difficulty coping with work-related stress, due to a terrible boss or for any other reason, contact us. We can help.