IT Employment

Poll: Have you ever quit a job because of a bad boss?

Take this poll and let us know if you've ever quit a job or requested a transfer because of a truly bad boss.

I can't tell you how many times TechRepublic members have told me some variation of "I quit my job because of a terrible boss." Our members speak of bosses with absolutely no technical know-how trying to lead teams that have to make technology work for the company. Or technically astute bosses who have no discernible management skills. And there are those bosses who are just plain hard to deal with because of some personality disorder.

If you google "incompetent boss," you'll get a zillion pages of advice on how to deal with them. Most of the advice is admirable (e.g., non-confrontational confrontation, complaining further up the corporate ladder, etc.), but the advice always ends with, "If all else fails, find another job." That's because, even if you're lucky enough to work for a company that will have an intervention on your behalf, there's nothing you can do to change another person's behavior. The only behavior you can change is your own.

Now, having said that, I'd like to see how many of you have left a job or changed positions because of a terrible boss. Take the poll below and maybe we can get an idea, in a totally unscientific manner, just how many bad bosses there are out there.

If you want to vent about the bad boss, or if you found a way to confront a bad boss and lived to tell about it, I'd love to hear about your experience in the discussion forum below.

About

Toni Bowers is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and is the award-winning blogger of the Career Management blog. She has edited newsletters, books, and web sites pertaining to software, IT career, and IT management issues.

134 comments
kjohnson
kjohnson

I have more chance of becoming Miss Seychelles 2011 than I have of ever being put in charge of anyone, but I want to post here and now that should I ever be responsible for making your life a misery, whosoever and wheresoever ye be, please TELL ME before you do anything stupid like quitting a reasonably well paid job.

LeonBA
LeonBA

A company I worked for pushed out one of the best managers I ever had, and replaced her with one of the worst. (His reputation had, in fact, preceded him, though I tried to reserve judgement and give him a fair shake.) I stayed about a year after the turnover. Things reached a point where his bad style caused me to make a mistake that was leading to him putting me on corrective action. At that point I saw the writing on the wall and quit. I told HR I was leaving, and why, and left. I've asked myself many times whether I did the right thing, and always come back with the same answer: YES.

doug.newton
doug.newton

To be fair, my boss was a genius in his field and a fairly likable guy, but he was arrogant and totally incompetent as a manager. I finally got fed up and left. About a year later I was told that he had been fired and they were interested in me coming back. I did and was with them for a total of ten years.

sd_vincent
sd_vincent

Once: I worked for a man who had temper tantrums. He would literally scream, turn red, etc. He even went so far as to hit a co-worker and amazing enough still did not get fired!

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

I was working full time when I was young, I worked mainly in sales and also part time construction jobs in between. When you are 17 and you want to go party for a week, quitting work was no big deal, I'll find a new job when I return. My first boss was a real conartist, made a great product (custom motorcycle leathers, and those ever so sexy leather pants and skirts horny women wore in the 80's). I worked for about 8 months, one day my boss said something that just irked me a tiny bit so I said FO, and left. I walked across the street and got a job selling really high end audio teh same day, in fact I started right then and there (yup the first audio gig for me). Good thing the new boss didn't check with the old boss, they were old friends. About a year and a bit later, THAT boss came in and said something that pi$ed me off, so again I walkd out teh door, went down the street and got anotehr jo the same day sellign warehouse equipment (forklifts, pallet jacks, loading bay doors, assembly lines, packaging equipment etc.). Two years later, he hired three people and split my sales terirtory, which again pi$$ed me off as I was making awesome money for an 18 year old, so I left and AGAIN found a job doing the same thing with their competitor (long before non compete's were around). I work because i want o work, I only work where I want to work an will leave in a heartbeat when I don't want ot work there anymore. I don't need to take a job bad enough to do somethign i don't like, luckily enough, living in BC there are ample opportunities. The longest I have worked at a single job, without getting bored, PO'd etc, is 5 years at teh same telecom company. That was because I started in sales, became the sales manager and then the IT guy, so it kept it fresh and interesting for me. As soon as I stop learning from my work, or don't care for my employer anymroe I just up and leave. However, even with moving around, I have great references, a great resume full of vast experiences and skills that people 20 years my seniors don't have. And hwo said you would have a hard time finding work if you don't finish school? Well maye these days, I know I told my son that more than once too. There is always an exception to the rule though. In short, bosses? Who needs em, don't put up with their crap. Half teh time they know less than you do and that instills fear into them, so they act like preeks.

gwilde
gwilde

Some bosses in previous companies I have worked in are inherently bad. Characteristics: 1. Be very weak, and always say yes to your boss. 2. Give your staff unrealistic targets. 3. Ensure your staff don't have the resources to deliver their projects. 4. Blame and punish your staff when projects inevitably are not delivered to the unreaslist deadlines. 5. Trum up rediculous excuses to 'manage people out of the business'. 6. Steel other peoples work. 7. Take the credit for other people's successes. 8. Do your upmost to demoralise your staff. 9. Move on before your incompetence is discovered.

sebastienbergeron
sebastienbergeron

Once, In 2001, the President and founder of that small software company was fired. He was very good technically but not made for financial decisions when the s word hit the fan for all those small new startups. He was replaced with a guy with no technical knowledge at all by the investors who were impressed that that guy was a friend of Ebbers. Not a very clever move since everyone but one left the company after that. What made me qui the job is when the new boss made large cuts in the support department that I was in charge, then the QA. Both departments were not very expensive for the company but could not show direct financial profit. He forced us to implement support plans (gold, silver, bronze and the like, but that was not suited well for the small business and a small yearly maintenance cost would have been more accepted by the customers.) Anyway, to make a long story short, the last nail was set when he openly asked favors to a young developer while continuously talking to others about his family values. That was enough for me and others. Almost all others left within the next two years.

mckinnej
mckinnej

If you leave because of the boss, you're weak and the boss won. If YOU can't handle it, don't blame the boss. The boss is probably still there, so s/he's doing well enough to keep his bosses happy. It's pretty simple math. If YOU left, then YOU own AT LEAST half of the responsibility.

cahstech
cahstech

I had a Dean [my boss] who told me it was an honor to die in the saddle! He expected me to be in my office before the first class began at 8:00 a.m. and leave when all classes were over for the day 9:00 p.m. I should have realized at the interview what I was in for because he had fired everyone--faculty & staff in the Computer Science Dept. He told me I would be re-building the department which is what I did. However, he was a very troubled man and to be frank with you he scared me. So I left and am glad I did.

AV .
AV .

Most of the managers I've had in IT were not only unknowledgeable, they had glaring personality defects. One I remember in particular used to keep a hardcover book about Hitler on his desk along with all kinds of "executive toys" around his office. He was a tyrant and so I quit. Another boss I had was a lazy goof-off that wanted me to do his job. His thing was going out to lunch and never coming back. He didn't manage anything. I did. I've learned one thing after working for almost 40 years. If you don't like the boss, move on. Anytime I did, I always found a better opportunity. AV

Darltk
Darltk

I have never quit because of boss but I have been looking for a job for a while now. I believe that the only thing you can do is change departments or change jobs in these situations. The person will never change. This is unfortunate. Job is decent but I have a boss that is not a good manager at all. She makes it miserable to come in. She is a micro manager and believes she is the only one right at all times. She walks around first thing in the morning to check to verify that everyone is there. Gives favoritism and work to only a few people. She even tells the group they MUST take lunch at certain times. We are all professionals with degress except for 1 or 2 people who don't. However, our ages average 35-50. It is just rediculous. She went to Supervisors training and told the trainer that she did not agree with what she was saying. She has NEVER had any type of formal training in management. Treating people like they are your kids is unacceptable. I have had a sit down with her and her boss but nothing changes. The other option is to wait for her to retire in a few years. I do have a job prospect, however, it calls for relocation. My advancement opportunitie are slim to none here so I have to do what I have to do. The job market is so bad that it is tough to get a job. Hate to sound so frustrated but it has come to this over the years when you feel stuck.

Curtis R. Unruh
Curtis R. Unruh

Self-absorbed, egomaniac, paranoid, uber-control freak. Smartest man I ever worked for. My blood pressure went down when I left.

mikifinaz1
mikifinaz1

I got tired of dealing with boneheads, now I work for myself. The money is much better, no politics and no boneheads.

Viperfriends12
Viperfriends12

After 18 years, yes in my main career. And the other one was a part time career that I worked on the side that the "owner/boss" was just about as dumb as a stump. He answers the age ole question, "if you have money, you can do whatever you want". Will never work for someone thats a complete idiot ever again. Life is to short to put up with that crap. Cheers!!

jimallbright
jimallbright

Yes, after working for the same company for twenty years.

Techtoo
Techtoo

A friend of mine just quite because of her boss -- she divorced her abusive husband. Now she is not in a hurry to resume her career as a housewife.

Techtoo
Techtoo

If you find yourself quiting because of a bad boss multiple times in your career or finding it hard to get along with your boss in job after job, then may be it's time to ask yourself : Is it really the boss, or is it myself?

caroline.orr
caroline.orr

Id been at my company for 17 years, and for the first time - had 2 REALLY bad bosses - one right after the other. An old boss from years ago contacted me about an opportunity he had for me.......and I took it.... So - now Im really enjoying my new life in Switzerland - Global Manager for Support. I would NEVER have quit my company after 17 years - if it werent for my bad boss making my life hell at the time.

plambert101
plambert101

YES!! The first knew nothing about the job and his bragging about chasing females on the job demoralized the work force. 2nd was a alcoholic with mental problems, 3rd was an alcoholic who was scary after lunch, 4th was an alcoholic who left voice mail broadcast rants after hours on week-ends, and the last was an air-head sales-puke with no knowledge of the job or reason why the department existed (this person was fired within 30 days of my transferring to another department. All this over a 25 year span with a major telecommunications company.

JEGonzalez
JEGonzalez

Once. A small shop dealing with security devices for universities. I kept noticing that my codeset kept changing at night and bugs introduced at nauseam. I finally learned that my boss' son-in-law (salesman and techie wannabe) was coming in at night and making mods. When I approached my boss (also owner of the shop) with this small problem his response was "He is the father of my grandchildren and I want to be able to see them". Left right after I exited his office. Learned after that the co. got into a small legal problem when a fire broke out in a dorm and the security logic locked all students in their rooms when the power failed and the logic treated it as someone trying to break into the dorm.... He had plenty of time to spend with the grankids after that.

HAL 9000
HAL 9000

The ones that I hate is where the person who was there when you joined the great company pickup their Bart and Ball and go elsewhere and they are replaced with a Complete Idiot who then proceeds to destroy everything that was created previously. At one place they even transported a Guy from the UK to AU as a Promotion. The true story was that he drove every one Nuts in the UK so they found a position as far away as possible and sent him there. And the Poms claim that Transportation to AU was stopped over a century ago. [b]They Lie![/b] Col

tilt53
tilt53

I was managing a clothing store when my mom died. I called in the asst. manager to handle things for a few days. I actually received a call from the idiot who wanted me to bring a copy of the death certificate when I returned. Revenge was sweet. He was an absentee owner. I came back, made payroll, locked the doors and turned over the keys to the mall management company. It was almost a week before he realized that there was no business in all that time.

Tink!
Tink!

Never had a bad boss . Or at least not a bad single boss. There have been bad managers at my places of work, but they were never mine, I served higher powers. :)

melodie.lente
melodie.lente

I've left two positions because of a bad boss. The second time, I walked away after confronting my boss, and then moving up the chain of command to no avail. It was definitely time to leave.

tech4me
tech4me

I left two jobs because of incompetent bosses, and to be honest if there was something else available now I'd leave my current job for the same reason. The single biggest thing that frustrates and makes me feel helpless at work is when I have an incompetent boss. I've been blessed to have worked for some really great bosses, and they make a world of difference to job satisfaction and overall happiness. When you have an incompetent boss though, you really notice the difference. Unfortunately not everyone's had a great boss in their life and don't know how to spot a bad one.

mikefoster7
mikefoster7

Ex Big Company Manager comes to work for small company. His attitude alientated customers and made my life in sales extremely difficult

travellingpolander
travellingpolander

I have a boos (hehehe... boss) has a title of an "CPA+MBA" who rather than listening to my advice that we have to re-structure our cabling (and upgrade to CAT6) by professional contractors, went on doing research for himself; purchased a not-so-sure CAT6 cable brand, including "unmanageable" switches, had our own engineering personnel (people who don't really have anything to do with IT infrastructure) do the cabling and hired an obviously fly-by-night guy to perform the actual crimping / patch paneling, etc. The reason I think is that they're friends and obviously there's "something" with the two, especially if another co-worker (the HR Director: another self-proclaimed "I.T" know-how) is a common friend of their's. Right now, I'm the one suffering from endless blame regarding slow internet / network connections, poor application response "over-the-network". I asked for stable internet connection - the ones for companies. Again, I was told that our still "home-based" dsl account would be fine. I also asked for antivirus protection for all the computers, again - the one approved for is only the server. Forgetting all of these, I just asked for another personnel to assist me (since I'm the only IT here) and they all snubbed me stating a "well think about it" statement. My response to all the boss(es) out there in the world is... if you have your own way of doing IT infrastructure, better not hire an IT personnel at all. It is always a dream of people working in IT to help management know the all risk involved, to help them understand and how to mitigate it. If we have thoughts other than their best practices ? sooner or later, all the things we built cheap will later cost us more than we initially payed for.

radams36
radams36

Wow, you have a real attitude issue, pal. And it's not even logical to make the assumption that the 'blame' is 50/50 without assessing the specific situation. You really are logic-challenged, aren't you?

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

Tell me exactly how many of the weak willed losers have left your 'team'? Oh and how many stayed? You sir, are a f'ing idiot.

KSoniat
KSoniat

I've left because of a boss, but each time it was to a better situation. The problem with a bad boss is that frequently someone higher up is also an issue and allowing it to go on. Which means the entire company has issues and staying to prove you can "handle" it would serve no purpose. If leaving for better pay, better environment and better career opportunities makes me "weak", I'll go for that every time.

asics447
asics447

If you can't handle it dont blame the boss? and you own half the blame? I couldnt agree with you less - has nothing to do with winning or losing and it is not a game. This is your life and work and why be miserable - some people just dont get along - it happens move on - but being weak and half of the blame - sometimes yes sometimes no- No matter what you do with a bad boss nothing matters and you can't win and turns into a pissing match and you will lose as employeee. Had a job once were no matter what I did it was not good enough and did better /quality work than other employees and still got fired. Boss did not like me and that was that. Best thing that ever happpened to me and I am a better person/employee for it.I Was with the company for seven years - boss was there for 6 months brought in his own people and let all current staff go. Is what it is Life is to short to be miserable - try and find a job you like it might take some time but it is worth it - Trust me

AV .
AV .

Every boss is a challenge, but it sounds more like you signed up for boot camp. What an intimidation freak! I'll never understand why bosses think its ok to treat people like that. Its oppressive and his "die in the saddle" behavior is way over the top. I'm glad you left too. Life is too short to waste on someone like that. AV

Sterling chip Camden
Sterling chip Camden

People require a lot of empathy and care -- something most brilliant types see as inefficient and superfluous.

debposton
debposton

I have always tried to work things out and make the most of every situation. There was this one time when my boss continued to delegate OTHER tasks that kept me from doing my job. I was working 9 hours at the office and then I would come home and work another 3 to 4 on this TASK. I talked until I was blue in the face and she continue to say....they need your help, your expertise...she wanted the GOLD star by me helping. After doing this for a year, I had to leave. Funny thing...I went to the department that I was doing the extra tasks for. She was the one that opened the door and I walked right through it. I should send her a THANK YOU!

AlpineHaddock
AlpineHaddock

The department was restructured and a new boss brought in. The first I knew of this was when she turned up (commuinication issues there!) From being relatively unsupervised (no complaints about work or workrate etc) we were suddenly being micromanaged. Changes were made that were more about stamping her authority on the department than actually improving practice, or "because this is how we did it at (previous company)". Customers and staff were alienated by her empire building. I found that I could get no work done because every three minutes there would be an inane question about how something worked, or asking for a piece of information that she was perfectly capable of looking up herself quicker than I could do it. Outside of work, she was a lovely person, but as a manager she was a nightmare. Eventually, senior management realised this and she took semi-retirement, but comes back in as a consultant to do certain analyses and there are no longer any problems.

mckinnej
mckinnej

Well, well. I didn't know 12 year olds hung out on TR. To answer your question, three. One who couldn't get along with the entire team, another who didn't produce anything and I was working to get rid of anyway, and a third who was doing well, but couldn't handle our travel schedule. Stayed? Dozens. I figured people would not understand my post. It's simple math. It's takes two to tango, does it not? There are always two parties to a conflict (at least). Therefore if you have a problem with your boss, then half of that conflict is YOUR responsibility. If you are defeated by the boss, well, it goes back to fight or flight. Most people here conceded the match and chose flight. To me that's weakness, but perhaps that is a bit harsh. I prefer fight. I have overcome several so-called bad bosses by simply outlasting them. (It's a survival strategy you learn in the military where quitting is not an option unless you are willing to do jail time.) Another technique is to work with them and get in their circle of trust. This one is hard, but it can pay off big time for both you and the organization. The point is, there is always a way if you're willing to persevere. If you can't hang, just admit it. It will save you some therapy money. PS. If you can't be civil in your posts you should get the hell off of TR and go hang out on Digg.

jck
jck

I had a boss like that. I even fixed 2 of his coding nightmares that he couldn't figure out. I got screamed at and told I was no good and stupid. Fact is, I am looking at leaving my current job. Between not getting the raise I was promised, having no decision on the environment that I work in, and having assurances broken that I was promised, I have about had enough. I said to them I'd stay here a while, but it was under agreed terms on BOTH sides. As far as I am concerned, my employer now is in full breach of contract. And, a verbal agreement in Florida is a contract in the party of unbiased witness. And yes, I have an unbiased witness.

santeewelding
santeewelding

I have to abandon some categories here. They never were all that fixed, anyway. Are yours, Chip? Do you navigate by them, as here?

AV .
AV .

I just can't believe you think that leaving a job because you don't like the boss is weak. Thats the best way to go, for everyone. This isn't the army, its a job that will get rid of you in a heartbeat. Why should anyone put up with an oppressive culture (in their opinion) when you can move on to something that truly inspires you? AV

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

We've got everything else here, including @ssholes. (I can be civil, but I'm only rising as far as your first post in this discussion.) Abusive bosses are not a two-way street. If your subordinates universally detest you, look first within your own office.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

You sir are a f'ing idiot is at least as polite as implying someone who sees no benefit to themselves in standing up to you to get what you think they should want a wimp. Persevere for what and why? An as for "gain their circle of trust, to benefit the organisation". Who are you trying to fool?. If it was me, you failed big style. No one benefits from incompetents, except incompetents.

KSoniat
KSoniat

I'm afraid you came across as the one out of line. I'm glad perseverence has worked in your case. "It takes two to tango" "there are two parties to a conflict" "if you are defeated by your boss" "if you can't hang just admit it" There was no conflict, no tango, no defeat. My boss was insecure, set up timebombs on the system and was so likeable that when a Purchasing clerk left and was asked in an exit interview the best and worst thing about working at the company - for the worst she stated working with my boss. When my boss ultimately left 6 months after I did I was offered his position. I turned it down as there were other issues with the company and I had greatly improved my career opportunities at a new company. You make the boss / employee relationship sound adversarial. And you infer that any of us who chose to change jobs "lost" some battle. Moving to a better opportunity, no matter the stimulus, is no loss.

Sterling chip Camden
Sterling chip Camden

It's all part of the fractal nature of the universe that refinement has no end. We have to choose the level of detail on which we will focus.

santeewelding
santeewelding

That's why I asked. Conditions, restrictions, and qualifications a mile long end in speechlessness. Thinking grinds to a halt, too.

Sterling chip Camden
Sterling chip Camden

Stating things plainly has more impact, but to be accurate I would need a string of qualifications a mile long.

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