Signs of a Toxic Boss You Shouldn’t Ignore

A full-time employee spends a great deal of time at the office. A toxic boss immensely impacts an employee’s overall well-being, health, productivity, and performance. Managers come in different styles and flavours, and how you interact with them affects your performance at work.

Coaches categorize managers or bosses into different categories. For example, you have ghost managers who rarely communicate with you and are seemingly never around. You also have the seagull type. These are the ones who divebomb into a project and then leave a mess behind, or make you start on it and take it away. Finally, you have incompetent managers who claim to know it all. At times managers are a combination of styles.

It is important to note that our relationship with our managers or bosses is often based on our own perception rather than their behaviour. That is why communication is the key to fostering a strong employee-manager relationship. Although that might be easier said than done, you need to look for signs that make a toxic boss and identify ways to mitigate them. Below are a few tell-tale signs and how to address them.

Doesn’t Listen

A toxic boss usually ignores your feedback, suggestions, and concerns. If done often, this could harm the team and company. An organization cannot thrive without people learning from each other. When you cannot communicate effectively with your manager, the team loses out on opportunities to address issues of concern that could contribute to the company’s success. To mitigate this, be open and honest with your manager. Your first approach would be openly discussing the situation with your manager.


Managers sometimes tend to be control freaks who insist on being involved in every aspect of your work. Micro-management becomes toxic when your boss wants a say on everything you do. Sometimes they might even take credit for work others do, displaying a lack of trust.

The best thing is to understand their behaviour and insecurity and align with their expectations. Although it might seem taxing initially, it helps to keep them in the loop by sharing notes from every meeting. Send them daily updates and be super responsive to their questions and emails. When they develop more trust in your merits, they are more likely to relax.


If your manager wants to take all the credit for your work and refuses to accept blame when things go wrong, that can affect your mental health. An arrogant manager might rarely appreciate your contributions and is offended by different opinions and suggestions. In this case, it is helpful to find common ground. When you have a shared passion with your manager, he will open up to you. Avoid challenging his egos when he is upset; he might be defensive and may retaliate.

Makes you Feel Insecure

Workplace coaches agree that creating physical and psychological safety conditions is a critical foundation for ensuring workplace mental health and well-being. If you feel insecure and are afraid to speak up because you are worried about losing your job, that can be mentally and emotionally taxing. Before things get out of hand, ask for help. A trusted mentor or someone in the human resources department can help you address the problem. 

Sets Unreasonable Expectations

Toxic managers often place high expectations on their team. When they raise the bar too high, they might demand an overwhelming workload or a fast turnaround from their team. This often increases employee anxiety and does more harm than good. To help you tackle the situation collaborate with your team and ask for help. Practice setting boundaries. If you can’t handle a large project within the given timeframe, communicate this to your supervisor and come up with an alternative plan.

David Messiha | Staff Writer

Fall 2023

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