What behaviours are unacceptable for a good manager?

What behaviours are unacceptable for a good manager?

| Career

Work occupies a significant part of modern people's lives.

We spend most of the workhours making new acquaintances, finding development opportunities, and realising our ambitions. In this case, the most crucial role in our success and professional achievements is played not only by the place of work and the position occupied but also by the management, i.e., the line manager, supervisor, or director. The work team reports to the boss, sets tasks, assesses the quality of their fulfilment, monitors discipline, and pays our salaries. In other words, our career prospects, financial well-being, and psychological state depend on this person.

Although today the development of management and leadership skills is the most sought-after area of training, such a phenomenon as a "bad boss" still thrives and is found in all labour markets. Such bosses, who cause people to quit even their seemingly favourite and satisfying jobs, are called "toxic". In this article, we will look at what behaviours make an employer a "toxic" employer, what is unacceptable in the workplace, and what you don't have to put up with.

From a legal perspective


First, starting your career and getting a job for the first time, studying the introductory provisions of labour law is necessary. It will help you to protect yourself as much as possible from a fraudulent or abusive employer later. There is even a special guide to international labour standards, which got developed by a UN unit to regulate the relations between employees and employers. This document describes how a properly drafted employment contract should look like and what obligations both parties should fulfil. For example, it says the employer has no legal right to do the following:

  • Not pay wages on time or paying employees their full salary. Know that if the manager asks you to wait for a day or pays you less than stipulated in the employment contract, it is punishable by criminal liability. In addition, if a manager allows themselves to disregard the employment contract and ask their employees to do such things, they do not value your contribution to the company and are negligent concerning existing laws.
  • Require employees to do work not provided for in the labour contract. It is essential to realise that this document is the primary regulator of your relationship with your boss. The employment contract should contain a list of duties the employee should perform. If the boss asks you to complete a task that is not on this list, it should get paid additionally. Don't be afraid to tell your boss directly because it's normal: extra work = extra pay.
  • Force an employee to work overtime. Of course, modern business often requires solving urgent tasks. Therefore, an employer can ask an employee to stay late after work, to go on duty on a legal day off, during holidays or even vacations. However, knowing that the employee has every right to refuse is essential. You can't call them to work immediately without the appropriate financial allowance or getting consent.
  • ·Penalise with fines for not showing up to work. It applies when the employee refuses to leave the vacation early or work overtime. Know that you have every right to refuse overworking, and the employer does not have the right to punish you.
  • Videotape employees without their consent. Of course, an employer can record on camera and see how an employee communicates with customers and what tasks they are engaged in throughout the workday. However, for the videotaping to be legal and not violate your employee rights, your line manager must take your consent to record it and use it for work purposes only.

Only the most basic and universal clauses of employment contracts are listed here. In other words, the employer has no right to the actions listed above. Nevertheless, the rights of employers can be extensive if each clause is in the employment contract. For example, requiring employees to comply with the dress code is entirely legal. Employees who violate the established rules on appearance or labour regulations may be reprimanded or even fired. Employers also have the right to downsize employees, use polygraphs to check employees' honesty during hiring, and regularly check their employees' health. Thus, the rights of employers largely depend on the drafted labour contract. Therefore, before signing it, carefully familiarise yourself with the document, and read the rights and obligations of both parties. Do not be afraid to clarify unclear points and even ask to change the issues that do not suit you.

However, this concerns the official, documented relationship between employees and employers. But there are also so-called ethical norms, which are also often violated. So what is unacceptable for a good boss regarding human relations and labour psychology?

Let's turn to ethics


Various company employees often face illegal fines, delayed wages, unpaid overtime, and ethical violations. Thus, employees may witness or be victimised by:

  • Discrimination

It still exists despite international labour standards prohibiting discrimination in employment relationships. Women often face discrimination at work because gender stereotypes continue to exist and complicate women's career paths. Additionally, there is discrimination based on gender and age, and it is no less widespread. It is especially pronounced in matters of hiring, promotion and pay. However, a competent and experienced manager knows that professional achievements and successes do not depend on gender, sexual preferences, or age but solely on intellectual capabilities, persistence, and desire to achieve results.

  • Insults and ridicule

Regularly raising your voice at employees is also not the norm, even if your boss yells at you. Unfortunately, this method is still practised in many teams, even though its ineffectiveness and highly negative consequences have long been proven. In addition, inappropriate and sarcastic remarks to subordinates, which the head can present in the form of jokes, are considered unacceptable. Remember that sarcastic reproaches are improper. The manager's observations and comments should not make team members feel uncomfortable.

  • Blackmail and threats

Often bosses resort to blackmail and intimidation of subordinates to achieve their goals, self-assertion, and satisfaction of a sense of vanity. However, threats of dismissal, demotion, and fines are unusual for a good manager because they know that working in such a psychological climate will bring nothing but emotional burnout and chronic stress.

  • Violations of subordination

The desire to be closer to the team does not cancel the rules of subordination. For effective leadership, it is necessary to maintain a distance from your team while always being ready to help and provide support. An experienced leader knows that employees must get reminded that their loyalty does not mean familiarity and permissiveness.

  • Devaluing employees and taking credit for their achievements

It would be unacceptable for a competent leader to disregard subordinates' achievements and professional successes while scolding them for the slightest mistakes or blunders. In a healthy team, the work of all employees should be judged on merit, which is often forgotten by bad bosses. Also, a characteristic feature of an inexperienced leader is the appropriation of the merits of other employees. Most often, they think that if the task could not be solved and the company lost customers or investors, then these are all omissions and mistakes of team members. And if things are good, then this, of course, is down to the leadership. With a great leader, however, this does not happen. A good boss understands that business develops and prospers thanks to well-coordinated teamwork.

  • Abrupt mood shifts and leading by emotion

Bad bosses are often guided by emotions when making decisions. Their plans and behaviour also depend on the disposition of the spirit. All this suggests that the person is emotionally and mentally unstable, which means they may behave unrestrainedly and lose control over themselves and external circumstances.

  • Lack of respect for employees

Ineffective leaders usually do not respect or pay attention to their team members. A true leader should be able to listen to their employees, learn from them and respect everyone they work with. Otherwise, it will be difficult for the employees to respect their leader because all employees want to feel significant and valuable and consider their opinion essential and weighty. When employees feel trust and respect for themselves, they will respect and trust their boss.

Among other things, there are several other common traits that bad bosses possess that are considered unacceptable for good bosses. Among them are:

  • Using employees as tools for personal success. That is, the belief that the team exists only to further the boss's career advancement;
  • Any displays of verbal or physical aggression, which in itself leads to a toxic work environment;
  • The expectation that all employees will be like them, i.e. the desire to remake employees to their standards rather than identifying and revealing the existing strengths of team members;
  • An inability to delegate authority. It is due to the wrong assessment of the team's professional qualities and the opinion of the manager that they will cope with everything better than the employees. However, this is not true; everyone should be engaged in their business;
  • A lack of empathy and low emotional intelligence, as one of the most important things is the ability to listen, help and support your employees, and the lack of this quality guarantees high turnover and low productivity;
  • Excessive conservatism and immobility, since the key to success in the modern world is constant, continuous development and self-improvement. Therefore, the manager must educate themselves, boost their employees' skills and introduce necessary innovations promptly.

Thus, an incompetent manager can turn a favourite job into an unbearable place. Therefore, responding to non-compliance with the labour contract and ethical violations is especially important because employee productivity, compliance culture, business reputation and company development depend on it.

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