Bad bosses use words to emotionally injure and humiliate their employees in an attempt to make themselves seem more important and powerful. It rarely works that way. Instead, demoralized employees lose their enthusiastic spirit for working hard and working smart. Good bosses encourage their employees, recognize their work and have honest conversations to solve problems and jump hurdles together. Is your boss a bully? If so, this might be why the boss is so mean to you.
1. “If you don’t want this job, I’ll find someone who does.”
Good managers give employees latitude and let them know their contributions have value. Bad managers constantly remind employees, “You work for me and don’t forget it.”
2. “I don’t pay you to think.”
Engaged employees offer creative “what if?” ideas, which are usually embraced by good managers. Bad managers view others’ ideas as threatening. Another way of saying this, which is even more rude is: “Do what I tell you and nothing else.”
3. “I won’t have you on eBay/ESPN/Facebook/etc. while you’re on the clock.”
Good managers know there is no “clock,” at least for white-collar workers, since engaged employees work as long as it takes to get the job done. So if they’re reading and responding to e-mail, finalizing spreadsheets and polishing that report at 11 p.m., shouldn’t they be allowed to check their Facebook page at noon? It’s called a mental break, and good managers know this.
4. “I’ll take it under advisement.”
It’s the ultimate brush-off that translates, “Go away and leave me alone. I’m not going to do what you suggest, and I value your opinions less than I could ever describe in words.”
5. “Who gave you permission to do that?”
Managers who guard their power by obsessing over hierarchy, permission and employee grade levels can make your life miserable.
6. “Drop everything and DO THIS NOW!”
Of course, there will be emergencies in every business at one time or another that require an “all hands on deck” mentality. But good managers do this only occasionally and in real emergencies. Bad managers do it frequently.
7. “Don’t bring me problems. Bring me solutions.”
Business is complicated, and it’s typical for an employee who spots a problem to not have the information or skills to solve it. Good managers appreciate the heads up. Bad managers who say this really mean: “Stop telling me what I don’t want to hear.”
8. “Sounds like a personal problem to me.”
Personal problems are work problems when they involve employees who aren’t getting along. Is one a bully? Good managers are capable of stepping in to mediate the situation. Bad managers tell the employees to figure it out themselves.
9. “I have some feedback for you, and everyone here feels the same way.”
When good managers give feedback, they try to emphasize and reinforce the good things, as well as being honest and forthright about the bad. Lousy managers don’t praise and instead ladle out the criticism. The really bad bosses get mean about it, insisting everyone in the office feels the same way.
10. “In these times, you’re lucky to have a job at all.”
Translation: Your bad manager is really saying he can’t believe you aren’t among the unemployed, considering what a lousy employee you are. It’s a huge insult. People who live in fear for their job, don’t see potential in themselves.