How to Avoid Problem Bosses

If you've ever worked for a problem boss before, you know just how demoralizing and exhausting it can be. This article will help you avoid the ugliness of the working world.


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    Listen to what they say.
    • Pay very close attention the line of conversation and the tone of voice they use during the interview. Does the boss bring up irrelevant matters not related to the company or the job you are seeking? Do they ramble on about personal experiences that have nothing to do with the job? Does he/she constantly interrupt you while you are trying to make a valid point? Do they go on and on about the previous employee who couldn’t seem to do anything right for them? These are all signs of an inexperienced and/or poorly trained manager.
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    Pay attention to what they bring to the table. A good manager will have with him/her a job description detailing your prospective duties within the organization and will be enthusiastic in going over these duties with you. Failure to have this on hand is a sure sign of a manager who is ill prepared to handle the demands/interests of the organization.
    • A good manager should be well prepared for the interview. Also, scripted interviews, where a manager will ask you interview questions from a pre-printed sheet, show lack of preparation/interest in getting the right answers from you. A terrifically good manager will know exactly what to ask of you as regards his/her specific needs.
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    Watch how they act. A weak handshake and none to very limited eye contact during the interview is not indicative of a boss interested in either you, or the job you are applying for. If your circumstances permit, turn down any forthcoming job offer from any outwardly hostile, or any seemingly bored, individual.
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    Look at what they wear. Are they appropriately dressed for the interview? Is she a “Prada” lady, wear too much makeup, or inappropriately revealing clothing? Is he a fastidious type with overly manicured hands, excessive jewelry (watches, bracelets, rings, etc.) or a slouchy, sloppy type with a stain on his tie? A good manager will have a polished, professional or office casual appearance without being either excessive (a fashion plate) or negligent (an outright slob) in his/her overall attire.
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    Pay attention to how they treat you, off the bat. Does the manager stop to take a personal phone call on his/her cell? Does he/she wink at you as they go on and on about last night's outing with a friend? Does he/she keep you waiting for any excessive length of time for your interview past the time you were supposed to meet? – this is not only rude and perversely controlling from the start, but a sure sign of trouble.
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    Look at what they keep. If interviewing in their office, take note of what is in that office. Barbie doll or Star Wars collections? A vast collection of family pictures? An excessive collection of recreational trophies? Utter chaos and paper everywhere? Conversely, is it a cold, sterile office devoid of character or warmth? The ideal manager will have a neatly organized office with moderate personal effects.
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    Look at where they are. In keeping with the above, do surroundings seem shoddy, (cheap, old or damaged furniture) in contrast to the company profile? A successful company that truly cares about its employees will have middle to top of the line equipment (computers, copiers, etc.) and newer, ergonomically correct furnishings for its employees. Cheap, old, or damaged equipment and dirty surroundings is a sure sign the company is in financial straits, if not actually sinking. Ask for a tour of the place. More importantly, ask to see where you will be working and what equipment you will be using.
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    Look at who is employed. Do employees seem disgruntled? Are they sitting around the watercooler gossiping at length, while you wait to be seen? Either these employees have too much time on their hands (poor staffing practices, lack of proper management) or they have stopped caring for a company that doesn’t care about them. Either way, it’s a bad sign.
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    See what they know. A good manager will be on the ball about the company he/she works for and what is expected of you. He/she will have a good grasp of company policies and procedures, core values and mission statement.
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    Ask a prospective manager what his/her managerial experience entails. How long have they been managing employees? How many employees? How much training have they had? Often, the worst managers are those who have been placed in a position without any priors: formal training, education, and/or experience in management. Too often, such impromptu managers seem to think the way to be a boss is to boss their employees – all the live-long day, with repeated or redundant demands. Companies too cheap to hire the proper management end up paying in the long run with a costly, higher turnover of employees. You’re more than just a pancake; continue with your job search.

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Categories: Interacting with Bosses