Bad Management Behaviors

31 Ways Bosses Drive Employees Crazy

a manager with a milk mustache drinking a cappucino
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Everyone gripes about their boss from time to time. And managers, you’re kidding yourselves if you don’t think you are the subject of your employees' dinnertime conversation once in a while. It comes with the job. Most managers are decent, hardworking human beings with the best of intentions, and even great managers will frustrate employees sometimes.

But no manager is perfect, and sometimes stress brings out the worst behaviors. Below is a list of 31 things that managers do that annoy their employees and cause problems in the workplace. Managers, this is a chance to perform an honest self-assessment—or better yet, get some candid feedback.

31 Behaviors of a Bad Boss

If you find that you're doing any of these things, resolve to stop your bad-boss behaviors.

Being Unresponsive

When an employee asks a question or makes a request, don’t ignore it until they have to ask again. Be responsive—yes, no, maybe, or at least let them know when you will have an answer for them.

Being Forgetful

Everyone forgets things now and then. But, if you make a habit of forgetting what you ask your employees to do or what they've accomplished, you're telling your employees that your instructions and their work aren't really that important.

Assigning the Same Task to Different Employees

This could happen due to forgetfulness, or it could be setting employees up intentionally to compete. Both are annoying and damaging to employee morale.

Not Setting an Example

This the classic "Do as I say, not as I do" approach. Leaders need to be role models, not hypocrites. You set the tone for your employees.

Taking Special Privileges

Don't fly first or business class and have your team fly coach. There is a great leadership tradition in the military: officers eat last. It’s a good standard for corporate managers to keep in mind.


Some managers get complacent, even lazy, yet expect their employees to pick up the slack. If your employees feel that they work harder than you do, you'll lose their respect quickly.

Not Pitching in During a Crisis

All hands on deck means ALL hands, including the manager. While it's true that managers should not be doing the work of their employees regularly, the crew will appreciate it when a manager pitches in and gets their hands dirty when the team is overwhelmed.

Over-Promising and Under-Delivering

This is common for the Type A visionary manager who comes up with lots of big ideas but rarely follows through with any of them. After a while, they lose credibility and trust.

Not Listening

Employees know when a manager isn’t paying attention, and it’s more than annoying—it’s disrespectful. Don't try to multi-task when you're meeting with your staff.

Insensitivity to Signs of Overwork

Some managers keep piling it on, oblivious to the telltale warning signs that an employee is on overload and about to hit the breaking point. This is a great way to burn out your staff and create a culture of overwork.

Fighting With and Badmouthing Your Peers or Boss

Employees want their managers to have positive, collaborative relationships with their managers and peers. If they don’t, it’s the employees who end up suffering the consequences of a lack of resources and cooperation from their other departments.

A Lack of Understanding or Appreciation

It's an often-heard employee complaint: My boss doesn’t have a clue what I do or how hard I work!” If you never recognize their contributions, they will notice.

Taking Credit Instead of Giving Credit

This is a surefire way to destroy trust and loyalty. One of the manager's primary jobs is to help others develop, and part of that means celebrating their successes.

Holding Back Critical Info

No employee wants to be caught by surprise about something important happening in the company. Sharing knowledge empowers your employees to take ownership of the company and its success.


If you really want to drive your employees crazy, then keep them on a very short leash and constantly check over their shoulders.

Ignoring Performance Problems

No one appreciates seeing their co-workers get away with murder. Failure to address poor performance is a sure way to tank morale.

Playing Favorites

It’s hard to be perceived as treating everyone fairly. One way to make it harder is to think you can be friends with your employees. Many managers think they can, but it usually backfires.

Nagging Employees on Weekends and Evenings 

Employees need their personal time, and good managers respect that. Don't pepper them with emails, texts, and calls on nights and weekends and expect immediate responses.

Being Cheap

Managers often have to tighten the belt, but there is a big difference between frugal and cheap. Frugal is staying at a less expensive hotel. Cheap is making employees room together.

Being Indecisive

Whether you take forever to make decisions, or you simply don't make decisions, you become a bottleneck. This frustrates employees and makes them apathetic in their work.


This is indecision mixed with trying to please everyone, leading to endless flip-flopping back and forth. It never works, and it only ends up making everyone upset.

Having Loose Lips

Betraying confidence is another way to erode trust. Respect employee privacy and don't foster a culture of gossip.

Being Moody, Emotionally Volatile, and Unpredictable

Some managers are so mercurial that everyone has to check with their secretary to find out what kind of mood they're in. If your employees are afraid to catch you at the wrong time, they're likely to avoid you all the time.

Refusing to Admit Mistakes

Some managers are quick to blame others and point fingers, never having the humility to admit their shortcomings. If you want employees to own their shortcomings, you need to own yours.

Saying, 'It's My May or the Highway'

This is the manager who insists on doing everything the “right” way, which really means their way. Taking this approach ensures you'll miss out on everyone's creative contributions.

Not Being Open to New Ideas

Good managers are open to new possibilities, but bad bosses are quick to shoot down new ideas.

Caring Only About Yourself

Do you show any concern for your employees' lives and interests? Or are you only concerned with you and your career?

Not Being Available

Bad managers are impossible to reach, always busy, and don’t take the time to have regular one-on-one meetings. Managing employees means taking the time to meet with them and address their questions and concerns.

Abusing Your Power

This is the bully boss, who uses sarcasm, insults, or other rude behavior to "keep employees in their place." There are few quicker ways to create a toxic work culture.

Being a Buzzkill

If you regularly only see the glass as half full when an employee shares good news or an accomplishment, you're a buzzkill. There are few things more discouraging.

Being a Know-It-All

This manager always has to “one-up” the employees to show them how smart they are. Yes, that’s a good idea, and here’s how to make it even better!”

The Bottom Line

No boss is perfect, and even the best ones probably struggle with a handful of these. If you've noticed that you're guilty of a few—or a lot—of these behaviors, then make a plan to work on one or two of them at a time. Your employees will thank you, and their performance will likely improve.