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Happy National Bosses Day to the Good and the Bad

by Aubree Hiscox, Career Coach Oct 11, 2021

I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again:

Everyone should have at least one negative boss experience in their lifetime. 

I can see the crowds, crying, “How could you say such a thing! Don’t you want me to be happy and have a successful career?”

Hear me out, I absolutely do! But, that is why I want you to have at least one bad supervisor experience. You will never be able to fully appreciate the blessing of an awesome boss until you’ve had a negative one. 

The past 11 years has afforded me opportunities to have some incredible bosses and ones that I would rather not have again.

As a result, I’ve learned what supervision I blossom under, or not. Although much of my self-awareness has come from these various situations, there are generally accepted good practices and bad practices for supervisors. Allow me to share: 

Bad Practices

  1. Communicates and Listens Poorly
  2. Plays Favorites Amongst Staff
  3. Lacks Concern for Employees’ Career and Personal Development
  4. Badmouths Staff Behind Their Backs
  5. Isn’t Open or Interested in Feedback
  6. Won’t Accept Responsibility for Their Actions/Inaction
  7. Puts Personal Needs/Wants Over Their Team

Good Practices

  1. Sets Clear Performance Expectations
  2. Provides Open and Honest Feedback
  3. Demonstrates a High Emotional Intelligence
  4. Recognizes Employee Efforts and Improvement
  5. Knows Their Employees and Their Needs
  6. Mentors and Coaches Their Staff
  7. Shares Credit in Department/Office Achievements

Although these are long lists, they are not exhaustive. I would encourage you to check out the references at the end of this blog for further reading on desirable and undesirable qualities in supervisors.

Now that you have a good sense of what you should be looking for in a supervisor, the question must be asked, “how do I determine if this supervisor is right for me, BEFORE I start working for them?” The answer is to ask them directly in your interview.

I guarantee you that at the end of any professional interview you will be asked, “Do you have any questions for me at this time?” This would be your opportunity to ask your interviewer, particularly if the interviewer would be your direct report, about their leadership and style of management.

For example:

  • “Would you be able to explain your management/leadership style, please?”
  • “Is your leadership method more Democratic, Laissez-Faire, or Authoritative?”
  • “How do you think your coworkers would describe your leadership style?”

These questions provide direct insight into the person's character and style of management. This will help you determine if you want to be managed by your interviewer, or not. 

Ultimately, nobody is ever going to have the perfect boss. We’re all flawed human beings; however, it is a bosses responsibility to recognize their weaknesses and grow in them. If not, how can they expect the same from their fellow employees and coworkers?

We’re all on unique growth paths with each good boss and bad boss experience leading us closer to a greater understanding of others and ourselves. Thus, furthering the development of our own leadership styles which will one day benefit others in the workplace.

For Further Reading:

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