The 4 Signs You’ve Got A Toxic Boss And What You Can Do About It

By Chris Westfall | Oct 8, 2020
Chris Westfall | ACHNET

Gallup reports that 70 percent of employee motivation is based on one factor: the boss. A toxic boss can cause motivation to drop, productivity to sink and morale to suffer. These unwanted consequences are just the tip of the iceberg. Think about your boss for a second. Is frustration the first thing that comes to mind?

With the economy continuing to sputter, workers are hesitant to seek new positions. Understandable, considering that 870,000 people filed for unemployment last week. Before you bail out into an uncertain job market, consider that there might be some solutions that could help your relationship with your toxic boss. If you’re experiencing these four management fails listed below, the big question is: are you willing to work on your supervisor situation? Below you will find some guidance on how to make the best of a bad situation. But first, here are four characteristics of a toxic boss:

1. Taking credit for your work - This management philosophy is based on a faulty assumption: namely, what’s yours is mine and what’s mine is mine. Have you ever had a boss take your work and own it - leaving you wondering if recognition is still a thing? If you’re being overlooked, or your effort is being ignored, you could have a toxic boss. The poison part is that ownership isn’t given, it’s taken. This scenario makes you feel as if your effort is invisible. Have you been there?

2. Unable to admit mistakes - the fault-finder boss is often the first to point out a mistake but the last to own one. The toxic boss offers control instead of collaboration. Leaders see the way things are and - in spite of the flaws and shortcomings we all have - they manage to inspire us to be better. Mistakes happen: how you and your boss address those mistakes is the key to a positive partnership.

3. Feedback fumble - when it’s time for your review, or even just some constructive feedback, the toxic boss will botch the conversation. Typically, what’s missing is empathy: the ability to see your challenges is elusive for a toxic boss. While leaders can’t give in to obstacles (and neither should you) it’s helpful to be able to admit that challenges exist. Without this empathetic acknowledgement, you can feel “less than” and incapable when you’re talking with a toxic boss. The key to your success is to pick up the fumble. Don’t stop with just identifying a problem: share your game plan for overcoming the challenge - or ask for help so that you can. Find new options and new solutions. Because, when someone tells me, “I’ve tried everything!” I quietly and politely add, “...except what works.” Don’t stop