There are actually more than three kinds of bosses you don't want to have, of course. But in this blog I leave out some of the obvious ones, like crazy bosses, bosses who throw things, and bosses who dress in Italian renaissance clothing and make you call him Machiavelli.
Here are some of the bosses who exercise behavior that may fall under the radar. You know your boss is bad if ...
He's too busy managing up to effectively manage a team
I will admit these are tough times economically, and everyone is acutely aware that no job is permanent. But some people, middle managers especially, are so concerned with pleasing upper management that they sacrifice the morale of their teams in the process. They spend most of their time and productivity figuring out how to keep their jobs instead of actually doing them.
It's tough to be a middle manager. Many times you have to ask your team to do something they don't want to do to meet a business need expressed by upper management. The problem comes up when a manager folds every time something like this happens. Employees will always work harder for a boss who understands their day-to-day routines and who is willing to keep the duties from becoming too harsh.
She is MIA
While rank does have its privileges, some folks take the idea too far. I once worked for a woman who would come in late, leave early, run errands in the middle of the day, etc. If you had a question, you had to e-mail her and schedule a time to address it. It was a definite impediment to communication.
This kind of behavior can also be bad for morale because if employees sense that their boss's priorities lie somewhere else completely -- and they will sense this -- they won't feel motivated to do their best work.
He will throw you under the bus in a New York minute
As a team member, you should feel that you can make some mistakes without being publicly burned at the stake by your boss. Your boss might readily discuss a mistake with you behind closed doors, but he should never air those mistakes in public.
Particularly hideous is the boss who will shove blame onto you for his mistake. If you have one of those, you should run away. Fast.
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.