What Makes A Bad, OK or Great Boss?

Linda Le Phan

Of all of the things that influence your work-life, your boss is pretty high up there on the list. Great ones help you build a successful career, while bad ones may actually sabotage your efforts entirely. Mediocre or just “OK” bosses may do neither, which also isn’t always a good thing – especially if you care about long-term career growth.

We’ve talked in depth about top leadership traits and how much “support from management” matters to entire organizations, so now it’s time to talk more about these same things in the context of the employee-boss relationship.

Because as our data shows, high performing companies on kununu had significantly better “support from management” scores than those that performed worse – in other words, great bosses = happier employees:

  • Among highest rated companies on kununu (4 stars or higher), the average rating for “support from management” is 4.52 stars
  • Among lowest rated companies on kununu (2 stars or less), the average rating for “support from management” is 1.22 stars


How can a person tell if a boss is bad, ok, or great? Here are five important factors to consider. See how your current, or future, boss measures up!

Feedback

Employees need comments from their superiors for a number of reasons. From knowing whether or not they are performing well, understanding expectations, and realizing where they fit with short and long-term goals, employees deserve clear communication from the top down.

Bad boss: Doesn’t take the time to share feedback. The boss may be too unorganized to know what to even tell the employee, or she thinks the employee should “just know.”

OK boss: Shares some feedback at certain times and keeps her team somewhat updated on what is expected of them.

Great boss: Uses feedback to bond and strengthen the relationship among her team. Drills down into her expectations and clearly communicates them to every team member.

Recognition

All of us, as human beings, appreciate being recognized and praised for their positive actions. So when it comes to bosses, giving your team members kudos whenever it’s deserved goes a long way toward engaging employees and keeping them satisfied with their jobs.

Bad boss: Is too intimidated by her employees, or too thoughtless, to offer up any praise, ever. She doesn’t want them to think they are doing well, because they may want a raise or try to undermine her power.

OK boss: Praises her employees inconsistently, but lets them know every now and then she appreciates their contributions with congratulatory emails or recognition during team meetings.

Great boss: Regularly compliments and shows gratitude toward her teams’ good works, both individually and as a whole. In addition, she makes sure upper management knows about the positive impact her team makes on the bottom line. She is not intimidated by her underlings’ success.

Engagement

Disengagement, in any sense, wreaks havoc on an organization. While employee engagement is a big deal in contributing to a company’s success, it affects managers, too. 

Bad boss: Personal problems or being mismatched for her position causes the boss to lack focus and initiative. The whole team suffers because of her dismal day-to-day involvement.

OK boss: She is committed to making her team a success, but is overloaded with work and personal issues. Even though her intentions are good, she often misses the mark in guiding her team to reach optimum productiveness.

Great boss: On top of her game, she is able to see the bottom line and understand what it will take to reach it. She is motivating and inspiring and helps each team member maximize their strengths and improve on their weaknesses.

Delegation

Many well-meaning leaders have buried themselves in an unreasonable amount of work because, for one reason or another, they won’t delegate responsibilities to their team.

Bad boss: Hoarder of tasks and activities. She will often keep all projects herself but then complain that her team isn’t productive and doesn’t help her reach department goals. Or, she delegates and then micro-manages every tiny detail.

OK boss: While she doles out a certain amount of responsibility, she is somewhat mistrustful of certain team members’ ability to complete tasks, so her delegation leaves some people with tons of work and others with none.

Great boss: Trusts her team and understands how to split tasks fairly and evenly so they can all be completed on time. Doesn’t look over her team’s shoulders every minute, but is there to help and answer questions if she’s needed.

Mentor

Bosses who spend the time helping team members improve are bound to see powerful results in building long-term, productive company employees.

Bad boss: Spends no time on mentoring. Helping others get ahead is not in her wheelhouse, and she sure doesn’t want her team performing better than she does. She had to learn it herself, and everyone else can, too!

OK boss: Takes time to help build her team’s strengths, but gets off-track on doing it consistently. Team members are frequently left alone to problem solve for themselves.  

Great boss: She puts a priority on assisting each team member in being the best employee possible. Always looking for additional training opportunities and offering guidance to mold them into better versions of themselves are what she considers top priorities.

A boss is an integral influencer in whether you’re satisfied, or miserable, at your job. These five factors can guide you in determining the type of boss you might have, and the one you want. If you are interviewing for a new position, be sure to use them to measure your future boss and let that information weigh into your decision.

 

What do you think – do you agree or disagree? Let us know your thoughts on great bosses on @kununu_US! Or better yet, share an anonymous review and tell us all about it.

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Linda Le Phan is the Content Marketing Manager at kununu US, a place where job seekers can get an authentic view of life at a company and where employers have a trusted platform to better engage talent. That means that everything on the editorial calendar goes through her (want to write for us? learn more here). When she’s not creating content about the modern workplace, company culture, and life & work hacks, she is probably going out to get an iced coffee (even in Boston winter), raiding the snack drawer, or jamming to kununu’s Spotify playlist.