Spineless suck-ups, raging narcissists: Bosses from hell

July 24, 2014: 9:44 AM ET
Rotten Bosses
NEW YORK (CNNMoney)

Bosses may be the ones giving annual performance reviews. But make no mistake: Their performances are being judged daily by those who work for them.

And when the boss is a thoughtless blowhard or an incompetent, spiteful person, the assessments will be, um, brutal.

We asked CNNMoney readers to tell us what makes a rotten boss.

Based on their answers, seriously awful managers seem to fall into one of six categories:

Spineless suck-up: This special breed are "all-around jerks to the employees, while being absolute angels to their superiors," wrote L. Tolbert of Wichita, Kan.

If they so much as sniff potential displeasure in the C-suite with your work, they will throw you under the bus.

They "can't resist political pressure from above, and cave immediately, failing to fight for or defend their people," said Colin Adams of Somerville, Mass.

Jekyll and Hyde: Readers were exceptionally down on managers who showed favoritism and applied "blatant double standards."

The truly rotten boss "has his few favorites and others could be dog sh**," said one reader from Virginia.

Raging narcissist: These charmers serve up large helpings of egomania, with a side of mean.

One reader said he had two rotten bosses in the past, both of whom were "sociopathic narcissists" and "accomplished liars."

"It was all about them and they had no ability to relate to others or have empathy for others," said John Balestrieri of Wisconsin.

Quiz: Do you have what it takes to be a great boss?

Jonathan Houck of New Jersey put it this way: They are the "problem child of a business culture that rewards failure, underhandedness, indifference, selfishness, narcissism, and shortsightedness."

Righteous do-nothing: There's nothing like busting your hump on a project only to see your boss hog all the credit, with nary a mention of the people who actually did the work.

Worse, still, is when the person in charge steers you wrong, dismisses your ideas and then never acknowledges you might have been right after all.

"A bad boss can never admit they are wrong or apologize to employees if needed," wrote Ken Hopkins of Dallas.

Then, of course, there's the "warm body" approach to managing.

Such bosses "provide no value. When approached for coun[sel] they either tell you to figure it out or send you to another contact. They lack follow up and are hard to reach. But they're quick to scold when performance isn't where it needs to be," said Anthony Williams of Oregon.

Dudley do-wrong: Bosses need to interact with those they manage.

Apparently, though, the boss who shuns contact and isolates himself didn't get that memo.

"He puts himself in an ivory tower where everybody is afraid to approach him and talk to him, so no ideas get shared. He does not find out about problems until it's too late. And he has zero connection to his staff," said Dave from Maryland.

Control freak on 'roids: Of course, too much hands-on involvement will drive employees nuts. Special ire was reserved for the "micromanager."

One reader from Pennsylvania complained about a boss who assigned a writing project without giving much direction. Then the boss re-wrote everything "as if he was the only one who could produce it clearly. It devalued one's output and confidence."

Kimberley Moore of California cited a boss who "would show up on her days off, just to make sure we were doing everything her way."

The takeaway for employees, Moore said: "She didn't trust or have faith in our abilities to get things done, no matter how long we were with the company."