9 tips for hiring a horrible manager

“The difference between a boss and a leader: A boss says just, ‘Go!’, a leader says, ‘Let’s go!” George E. Maurice Kelly, American pilot.


There are hundreds of articles on the Internet about how to hire a great boss. However, you may have met horrible bosses throughout your professional career. I mean, that kind of bosses that when you think of them, certain scenes of Game of Thrones or medieval torture museums come to your mind. It’s not a coincidence that the theme bad boss-burnout employee has been brought to the big screen, like the film “Horrible Bosses”, starred by Kevin Spacey, among some other great actors (and even a sequel in 2014). 

Hence, what’s the matter? Is there any procedure by which recruitment experts identify bad bosses to hire them and put them on our professional paths? Maybe you are a recruiter, you have to manage your own company, you’re a professional who has survived to devilish bosses in your career, or you’re running a start-up and manage work teams. I’m Juanjo Marle and, as a headhunter, I’m going to give you 9 tips for identifying and hiring a bad boss. 


  1. Robots? Sci-fi silly stuff

If you want to hire a bad boss, you should select those who reject technological immersion and don’t want to know anything about competences linked to programming, robotics or digitalization. For these people, concepts such as augmented reality, the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence, blockchain, or the automation process sound like an episode of Black Mirror. In addition, they consider investment in technology as an unnecessary expense. 

Let’s pay attention to their desktop: they probably still use Internet Explorer and if you mention or tell them about “Miro” they probably think that you mispronounce the surname of the famous Catalan artist and the highest representative of the Surrealism. Maybe they think that Asana could be an Argentinean grill where people can taste some incredible chops and if you invite them to Slack they’ll probably think you both are going to play paddle.  

Such people unable to understand the massive impact of digital change in the professional world; such people who look for comfort in traditional obsolete business methods. The simple idea of implementing artificial intelligence to facilitate and speed up the work could be considered as a conspiracy indeed taken by the film “I, robot”.

  1. Want-it for yesterday? You’re in!

Jhon Maynard Keynes, one of the most influent economists of the 20th century, stated in his critics to the neo-classical economy that “In the long run we are all dead”. That’s possibly what a bad boss will say when you ask him about his vision for the future. These people are unable to distinguish between important task and the urgent ones; they want everything for the previous day and they are running around like a headless chicken and, worse still, they head off the rest of the office. Anti-lidrs who only think about immediate results are not willing to open up to the unknown or to visualize new possibilities in such a changing world. For them (with any lucky), the future is placed at the end of the term, to be more precise, at the moment to collect the bonus. This way of thought makes impossible to draw an inspiring long-term view. In fact, not only do these bosses lack of vision for the future to share and connect with the purpose of their team members, but also they don’t have a vision of “lidrship”. Some adjectives to describe them are inconsistent, unpredictable or people who take a path today but tomorrow they retrace their steps back to the beginning. Seneca had already said so: “There is no favourable wind for the sailor who doesn’t know where to go”.

  1. Story-what?

If you really want to identify a horrible boss, you should focus on those people who criticize and belittle any new idea in order to put it into practice. A brainstorming with them is something similar to be in a cemetery. Applied creativity and experimentation are conspicuous by its absence in their plans and they understand that innovations depend on a geek whose light bulb is lit instead of combining different points of view and establishing collaborative networks in an organisation. Storytelling? Copywriting? That’s are tall tales. I have enough stories on Netflix. Visual thinking? Stop drawing pictures and get to work. Lateral thinking? Stop this nonsense. Phrases like “this task has been done all our lives and we’ve done it well” will give you the final clue that you’re on the right track in the selection process. 

  1. Constant criticism

No matter how small it is, great bosses always celebrate the successes of employees, so you should run from them. This kind of events will make people to be more motivated and more willing to put their shoulders to the wheel. Instead, keep an eye on those bosses who are always criticizing the staff. Watch out for any insult and bad words, or if they easily lose their temper. If so, then don’t let them get away! Did you do something wrong? Two slaps. Did you do it right? Just one slap, but you take it away, of course. 

This attitude and modus operandi will always certainly cause employees to lose confidence and feel insecure in their workstation and environment. They won’t know what to do because, whatever they do, feedback will be destructive and harmful. With any luck, the employees will be so burnt out and up to their eyeballs that they will go to another company to put everything they have learned into practice. Or maybe they will start their own project. If everything goes well, they’ll tell the story of why they abandoned the project, spreading the word about that toxic boss for free.


  1. Make sure of that boss doesn’t have a single soft-skill

The term soft-skills consist on how you transmit and apply knowledge and experience. They are related to emotional intelligence, teamwork, communication, stress management, negotiation skills, conflict resolution… The soft-skills demonstrate your attitude to face personal and professional challenges in a single way. 

Those bosses who have developed any of these soft-skills are likely to empathise with their co-workers, know how to treat people and respect them. But we don’t want that. You should look for professionals who focus only and only on hard-skills, that is, on what they know how to do, who don’t take into account people’s problems and concerns. You have to gain those people who hate being questioned and who redo by themselves the tasks that they have previously delegated. Those bosses who congratulate you in private (kind of a miracle if they do) and loudly scold you in the middle of the office.

  1. Under any circumstance teamwork will be allowed in the company

Great bosses know that their aim is to create other leaders. They all have in mind that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. That is why lidrs care about the development and engagement of their dependents, by rallying round to support each other. Teamwork is key to achieving maximum potential of an organization. But this article is about hiring a bad boss. So, you have to pay a lot of attention to find someone who suffers from Caesar’s syndrome. I’m sure that you have heard the well-known phrase “divide and conquer”. As far as we know, it was the Roman Emperor Julius Caesar who first pronounced it more than a thousand years ago («divide et impera»).

This strategy is appropriate for conquering empires and winning battles, but it is not the most appropriate for leading a team. A boss infected with Caesar’s syndrome will divide their teams so that individualism and distrust prevail. Unfinished projects, countless conflicts and many doses of bad feelings are some consequences of having such a bad boss. Jackpot!

  1. Dictatorial leadership

Mentoring, coaching, creating an environment where people can express themselves freely and think autonomously… Forget about that. Your company should offer The Bad Boss Experience. Why treat people well when you can humiliate and intimidate them? Catch those bosses who use fear to achieve their goals. You will recognize them because they’re always on the defensive and take everything as a personal attack. If you tell them that you’ve had a business idea, they won’t let you finish explaining yourself. They will tell you to shut up, the idea is not good enough, and they will try to convince you for a long time why you are so wrong. However, they will end the conversation by telling you to explain all the ideas you can think of, at least one of them will be good, and you give a ball. A little pat on the back and we’ll see it next time, dude. This leadership may be due to one of the symptoms of Caesar’s syndrome. Bosses feel that they have to defend their position. They’re afraid that the team will be cohesive and see union of workers as a threat.

On the other hand, their insecurity restricts the proliferation of ideas and arguments by staff. What’s the result? Talent drain and lack of innovation within the organization. Therefore, you should try to hire bosses who make confidences to spread chaos, provoke friction between colleagues with false accusations and cut the wings of communication and workers creativity. 



  1. If something goes well, it’s up to the boss. If it goes wrong, it’s the others’ fault.

A bad boss puts on the succeeding medal and avoids responsibility when things go wrong. They are prone to stealing credit from their employees. They often do this to avoid feeling inferior and to emphasize their importance in the organization. What they actually do is to drive away the talent around them. The other side of the coin is to blame your team when things go wrong. In this way, a bad boss spreads “the culture of pointing”: Finding and pointing out the culprit of a situation, everything solved. They will ask “who did this?” rather than “how can we fix it?” The members of the organization will imitate this behaviour and, to get rid of any possible anger, they will try to control the actions of others in order to be prepared and sinless.  

Be careful! You may fall into the clutches of good lidrs. They will tend to be happy and optimistic. If things go well, they will recognise the effort and work of each and every member of the team, without whom success would not be possible. They also accept responsibility for failure, sending the message that making mistakes is part of learning. They don’t crush people for their mistakes, nor they’re constantly reminding that things didn’t work out. They act and re-motivate their team to emerge stronger from a crisis, promoting a culture of innovation and self-improvement. 

  1. Essential condition: to control every movement of your staff

Bad bosses keep track of how many times you get out of your chair to go to the bathroom, whether you’ve called your great-aunt to see if she’s okay on her knee, or whether you’ve turned off the computer at 7:58 pm, just two minutes before the hour. They are the same ones that, even if you overwork, demand insane punctuality to enter. They don’t let their employees have lunch and they have right fully on their side with phrases like “if you don’t like it, there’s the door” or “here comes to work”. Woe betide if you complain!

Hold on to these profiles for your company. Don’t be fooled by bosses who give their employees freedom. There is a risk that workers will start working to achieve results and meet objectives, instead of heating the chair. A positive work environment could be created where ideas flourish and teamwork could take place. Remember, it’s about hiring a bad boss. 

I complain about complaints But I hate complainers - Ancient Aliens | Meme Generator

Is there any other tip?

Do you have any other key tip for identifying and hiring a bad boss? 

Share with me or leave your comment. I’m pretty sure that very interesting clues will appear. 

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INCONFORMIST. Juanjo Marle is always expanding his comfort zone, learning something new, and exploring new ways of doing things through unique, creative means. He loves working in teams with a strong commercial profile. He's also passionate about coaching business development and personal growth