How to Avoid Becoming a Horrible Boss

by Guest Contributor on July 27, 2011

189/365: Triple Feature In some industries, like film and music, ending up on the “hit list” is a good thing. Fame and fortune are bound to follow.

Unfortunately, winding up on the “hit list” as a manager is an entirely different story.

In the newly-released movie, “Horrible Bosses,” three friends devise a plan to rid themselves of their bosses. This idea seems to resonate with many, as the film has had a strong opening at the box office. Here’s why.

Bad bosses are all around, which means there is a shortage of role models for those interested in becoming a boss that others admire. Don’t despair. There are ways to make it into the Good Boss Hall of Fame on your own. Follow these steps and you’ll be well on your way.

Be yourself

Employees can see right through bosses who try to be someone they will never be. This strategy can certainly backfire as the employee retaliates by pretending to be someone they are not.

This game has no winner. Instead, be authentic. If chitchat isn’t your thing, then be cordial. At least your people will know which personality will be showing up for work tomorrow.

Don’t mix business with pleasure

Working evenings and weekends doesn’t leave much time for a social life. But that doesn’t mean it’s okay to “friend” people in the office. Or worse yet, try to date someone at work. There is a reason why people say it’s not good to mix business with pleasure.

A harassment suit is the last thing you need added to your otherwise stellar resume.

Consistency be thy name

If you’ve ever worked for a boss who said one thing on Friday and another on Monday, you know exactly what it’s like to work for a psycho boss. Employees need consistency from their leaders. It’s okay to change your mind every now and again, but certainly not on a daily basis.


Aretha Franklin sang about this years ago, yet the idea of respect is still a foreign concept to many. Respect means treating people the way you’d like to be treated. This includes speaking to people, rather than at people. And let’s not forget the screamers who can be heard two floors below. Screaming in the office is never acceptable, regardless of the situation.

If you are that upset, take it outside and yell at yourself in your car.

Yes, there certainly is a shortage of good bosses who can be role models for today’s leaders. But that doesn’t mean you can’t become a role model for the next generation of bosses.

Image: bradleypjohnson via Flickr, Creative Commons

Roberta MatusonRoberta Chinsky Matuson is the President of Human Resource Solutions and author of the international best seller, Suddenly in Charge: Managing Up, Managing Down, Succeeding All Around. She is also an Expert for Monster and BostonWorks (a division of the Boston Globe) and a blogger for Fast Company. Sign up to receive a complimentary subscription to Roberta’s monthly newsletter, HR Matters.

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