The success of any team, and the wider business, depends on the effectiveness of management. But the reality is, toxic bosses exist in organisations and companies of all shapes and sizes, across many markets and sectors.

Bad managers fail to trust and respect employees, or worse still, intimidate their team members. Ultimately, bad bosses cause unnecessary stress in the workplace and are a major driver of reduced productivity and performance, plus high turnover rates, which ends up costing the business a sizeable amount – often 1.5 or 2 times the employee’s salary.

So how can you tell if someone is a bad manager? Here are the warning signs to look out for.


Past research has shown that arrogant employees often make poor managers and tend to shift the blame to subordinates, resulting in inevitable dysfunction within teams and the organisation overall. 

What’s more, an arrogant manager is less likely to welcome or solicit feedback and may keep subordinates in a helpless position, denying them the opportunity for mentoring, coaching, career progress or promotions.


Micromanagement is one of the key red flags that someone is, or would be, a bad boss. By paying too much attention to every tiny detail, a manager not only shows a complete lack of trust in their team, but also eats up time that could be spent on other more important tasks. 

When a manager tries to control every aspect of their people’s behaviour, it also reduces the likelihood of team members coming up with new ideas and improvements to business processes.

Poor communication

One of the most important skills of a good manager is being able to communicate clearly – both with peers and subordinates. 

Bad managers will often communicate instructions with insufficient detail, or rush to explain things without providing enough background information – sometimes due to not completely understanding the project or task themselves. This can lead to mistakes, double-handing, inefficient workflows and low team morale.

RELATED: How to fix a broken team culture

Lack of accountability

Accountability is a crucial asset in any role, but especially for people in management positions where the buck ultimately stops with them.

Rather than take responsibility when things go wrong, bad managers will often blame others when confronted, leading to distrust and a negative working environment. A good manager, on the other hand, understands that they can delegate authority but not responsibility.

Trying to be everybody’s friend

It’s important for managers to build positive working relationships with those who work under them, but it’s also important they don’t fall into the trap of being so friendly that managing their team becomes difficult. 

If someone behaves badly at work or is not performing their role effectively, a manager needs to be able to address this. Trying to be everybody’s friend rather than their boss, can negatively impact their ability to effectively manage their team’s performance. This becomes even more problematic if there is conflict within the team and the person at fault is not disciplined by their manager. It sets up a culture of accepting, or getting away with, bad behaviour.

Being too critical

At the other end of the spectrum, a constant critic, AKA the mean boss, is a real drain on a company’s energy and creativity. This type of manager’s attitude keeps people working in very narrow guidelines and stifles confidence within the team. 

Conversely, good managers understand the difference between helpful and unhelpful feedback, and also take the time to acknowledge great work.

Looking to fill a management position or a more junior role? Get in touch with Page Personnel’s recruitment consultants.

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