The Journal Gazette
Sunday, October 27, 2019 1:00 am

Paper lists how to deal with 'Nightmare Boss'

LISA GREEN | The Journal Gazette

Employee resignation letters aren't always just the result of exciting new career opportunities. Sometimes they're an escape from a boss – or, to put it harshly, a nightmare.

“Every manager makes mistakes, and most of them are due to miscommunication or other factors that are easily correctable with reflection, employee pulse checks, and leadership training,” according to a recent white paper from Ultimate Software, which specializes in human resources, payroll and related services for businesses.

Sometimes, though, toxic tendencies run deep. And managers who can't control them can “tank employer rankings, reflecting poorly on their company culture” and damage the business brand and reputation, the firm said.

Here's a few personality profiles it outlined in the white paper titled “Don't Be a Nightmare Boss,” along with corrective suggestions:

Nightmare No. 1: The Taskmaster. They may get results, but the relentless drive toward perfection can contribute to employee burnout, leaving exhausted workers unable to perform well on the next task. Employees under these leaders might fear constant criticism or having creative ideas stifled.

Leaders should: Consider not just the immediate goal, but long-term impact and whether the instructions they give may actually disengage rather than engage workers.

Nightmare No. 2: The Big Brother. Does the term “micromanagement” ring a bell? It's possible to be too hands-on. If employees don't feel trusted, they are less likely to engage, hindering productivity.

Leaders should: Consider systems that track and measure progress, sometimes through cloud-based systems that employees might manage themselves. That could reduce the times a manager has to ask for a report.

Nightmare No. 3: The Nuclear Temper. This manager is known for outbursts. While an employee might occasionally be motivated by such tantrums, such displays are more likely to have consequences such as careless mistakes from workers who have lost confidence in their own work along with high turnover.

Leaders should: Embrace external training that might include anger management for themselves – or those who exhibit such tempers. 

Nightmare No. 4: The Boss Who Can't Bear to Bear Bad News. Communication is a key competency. Yet bosses who “loathe delivering any type of bad news to employees often find that the steps they take to avoid it can backfire, resulting in the need for further damage control and lower office morale,” the white paper said.

Leaders should: Consider external training and other systems to help broadcast and deliver important news.

Sure, Ultimate Software could benefit from some of its assessments, particularly those that suggest software might help. But the risks outlined with each personality the firm's white paper outlines are real.

That's not to say all employee turnover is bad. I think it's easy to assume – on the surface – most is.

Some employees just aren't a good fit with existing or evolving company culture. An employee who is prone to temper tantrums and becomes appalled when a manager reins them in is one example. Not every manager is tolerant of some actions.

And some employees tempted to complain about micromanagement may really want no management or accountability at all. In most workplaces, that doesn't work well either. The ones who crave less input or reporting expectations might be the ones who need the most guidance.

And let's face it: Not every employee comes to stay. If you're lucky, they'll be honest about long-range goals. But sometimes, a great career move simply comes suddenly calling.

In the end, employees and managers are responsible for the health and culture of the workplace.

Work fair. Sleep well.

To share a thought, a favorite quote or other wisdom about leadership, email Lisa Green at Lead On also appears online as a blog at

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