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This Is What People Hate Most About Their Boss, Survey Shows

According to 2,000 workers, these are the things they like least about their managers.

If you've been in the workforce long enough, odds are you've dealt with a boss—likely a few—that you didn't exactly see eye-to-eye with. It's almost a rite of passage to butt heads with a manager at some point along your career path. And because there are so many things that can make someone a bad boss—from a short temper to an overinflated ego—a new 2021 survey set out to determine just what people dislike the most about their boss. The career experts at Zippia surveyed 2,000 workers to better understand "toxic employee-boss relationships," which included asking them what characteristics and behaviors they like least about their managers. Read on to discover what people hate most about their boss.

RELATED: The One Thing You Should Ask Your Boss Once a Month.


Lazy boss

People who say this is their boss' worst trait: ≈1.75 percent

Does your boss spend more time on the golf course, at their vacation home, or watching YouTube videos than they do actually working?

If so, experts say you should try to use your boss' slacker tendencies to your advantage. "Try looking at your boss's laziness as a way to advance your own career," career advice and job resource site The Muse recommends. "Ask her if you can take the lead on a few projects that interest you. Chances are that your boss won't mind relinquishing the extra work, and you'll be fattening up your resume for future job opportunities."


Ungrateful Boss

People who say this is their boss' worst trait: ≈2.25 percent

Nothing can be more demoralizing than burning the midnight oil for days and giving everything you got to hand over your best work to your boss and receiving little more than a curt "thank you" in return.

In dealing with an ungrateful boss, The Muse recommends that you "work on cultivating relationships with other people in the office. Look for someone else to act as a mentor, give you solid career advice, and serve as a reliable reference."


Inappropriate boss

People who say this is their boss' worst trait: ≈2.5 percent

There is certain language and behavior that is just plain unacceptable in the workplace—whether it be an off-color joke or unwanted advance, you should not have to put up with an inappropriate boss.

If you find yourself in a situation with your boss that makes you uncomfortable,, the website of The Houston Chronicle, recommends taking any or all of the following courses of action: set boundaries, ask for a meeting, document the situation, and seek additional help.

Bad temper

middle aged male boss yelling and pointing at employee

People who say this is their boss' worst trait: ≈2.75 percent

Are you constantly walking on eggshells in fear of your boss losing their temper? Dealing with an angry boss can be tricky, but a good place to start is being aware of what tends to make them angry.

"Do your best to control them by understanding what triggers a meltdown, and avoiding those things," The Muse recommends. "For example, if your editor flips when you misspell a source's name, be sure to double and triple-check your notes. And if your boss starts foaming at the mouth if you arrive a moment after 8 a.m., plan to get there at 7:45—Every. Single. Day."


female boss delegating tasks

People who say this is their boss' worst trait: ≈3.75 percent

Is your boss an egomaniac who thinks they are the best thing since sliced bread and is always taking credit for your hard work? If so, do your best to avoid any opportunity to inflate their already big head.

The Muse advises: "Ignore their calls for validation as much as possible. You certainly don't want to disregard your boss, but feeding the ego monster with unnecessary compliments and attention will only reinforce bad behavior."


Work gossip

People who say this is their boss' worst trait: ≈4.25 percent

Office gossip is, unfortunately, an unavoidable aspect of being a member of the workforce. But if it is your boss doing the gossiping, there are things you can—and should—do to address the problem, according to Harvard Business Review.

For example, if your boss is gossiping to you about a colleague, you should immediately set a boundary and let them know that you aren't comfortable with them talking to you behind the coworker's back. You also have a responsibility to give your colleague a heads up about what's going on, Harvard Business Review says. Doing so will help create a work environment where open dialogue—not toxic gossip—is the precedent.

Poor listener

Boss refusing to listen

People who say this is their boss' worst trait: ≈4.5 percent

Getting your boss to listen to what you have to say or consider your ideas for the big project you're working on can sometimes feel harder than asking them for a raise. If that's the case in your current situation, Management Training & Development suggests doing something (appropriate and relevant, of course) to grab their attention, understanding how they most prefer to receive information, asking them for their opinion, making it easy for them to respond to an email, and communicating with them on their level.

No empathy

Serious young woman being scolded by her female boss.

People who say this is their boss' worst trait: ≈6.5 percent

Some people are just less empathetic than others, and since mangers are people too, that means some bosses are going to have a lower emotional IQ. That, however, doesn't mean they are incapable of understanding a situation or problem you're having. You just may have to communicate it to them differently than you normally would.

"When you approach your boss to have a talk, focus on results instead of emotions," Krista DiGiacomo, franchise owner and managing partner of Express Employment Professionals, wrote on LinkedIn. "Communicate your circumstance and the impact it is having on your performance. It is important to follow up immediately with what you will do to overcome the situation, and be specific."


man in suit pointing to watch in office

People who say this is their boss' worst trait: ≈8.5 percent

Chances are that you've probably felt like your boss has been condescending to you at one point or another. It's only natural to feel that way once in a while when dealing with someone in a position of authority. But if your boss' condescension is a persistent problem and not something you can brush off, there is one thing you should never do.

"When your boss is being condescending, clamming up is the last thing you should do," Anett Grant, CEO of Executive Speaking, Inc., wrote in an article for Fast Company. "If you don't muster some sort of a response, you'll come across as disengaged—like you don't really care about what's happening. In fact, staying silent will likely ratchet up the condescension level. You need to stand up for yourself, without being so confrontational that it blows up into an all-out argument with your boss."


woman looking angry at older coworker on computer

People who say this is their boss' worst trait: ≈11.5 percent

Rudeness is an unsavory quality in any person, but it can be especially hard to deal with when that person is your boss. The good news is that you don't just have to sit there and deal with it.

Sarah Landrum of the blog Women Working suggests doing the following to combat your boss' rudeness: demonstrate your value, call out rude behavior, enlist help and support, and remember that you're not the problem.


Incompetent worker

People who say this is their boss' worst trait: ≈13.5 percent

All employees have complained about their boss at one point or another. But there's a difference between a boss that can be hard to please and one that truly doesn't know what they're doing. In the latter case, don't just sit around and complain or ridicule your boss' apparent incompetence.

Instead, Harvard Business Review recommends doing the following: "Have empathy for your boss and the pressures he may be under, create psychological boundaries around work so that your boss's incompetence doesn't negatively impact your health or wellbeing, and focus on the broader good of the organization and what you can do to contribute."

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Closed door of boss' office

People who say this is their boss' worst trait: ≈16 percent

Trying to be a productive and valuable employee can be difficult if you have a boss who is never in their office, doesn't answer emails in a timely manner, or never picks up their phone. But there are a few things you can do to not let an unavailable boss get in your way.

The job site Career Trend recommends understanding the situation, scheduling conversations, using their preferred method of communication (be it email, text, or instant message), and prioritizing your own work.



People who say this is their boss' worst trait: ≈23 percent

Nothing can create more tension and stress in the workplace than having a boss hovering over your shoulder all the time and insisting their way is the only way. And while it may sound like a difficult task, if your boss is a micromanager, you might have to address the problem face-to-face.

"To challenge this, employees should create more awareness around how their manager's behaviors and words impact them," leadership coach and workplace culture consultant Heidi Lynne Kurter wrote in an article for Forbes. "This starts by having an open and respectful conversation with their manager. Using an 'I feel' statement with specific examples, such as 'I feel like you don't trust me when you X', is a great starting point."

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