13 Most Useless Ways Bad Bosses Waste Your Time

Bad bosses do more than wreak havoc on your mental health. They can also destroy your productivity in these 13 frustrating ways.
Updated March 7, 2024
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It’s a common adage in the business world that people don’t leave jobs or companies — they leave managers. 

Plenty of data backs up that assertion: A 2022 survey by GoodHire found that more than 80% of workers would potentially quit because of a bad manager.

Bad bosses are damaging for all sorts of reasons. They can impede your career growth (and thus your ability to get ahead financially), escalate workplace conflicts, and make coming to work each day as unenjoyable as possible. 

But what’s one of the most crucial reasons bad bosses can damage both you and your company? Wasting your time — often by using one of the following poor management tactics.

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Micromanaging every assignment

totojang1977/Adobe businessman worry about his job with serious boss

You were hired for a reason, whether that reason was your expertise, ability to learn on your feet, years of work experience, or passion for a new job. But for a boss who micromanages you, you might as well have no credentials at all.

Maybe they simply don’t trust you to do your work, or perhaps they need to control every detail to feel okay about their own job security. Whatever the reason, they aren’t doing you (or your company) any favors. 

You’re fully capable of doing your job yourself, and trying to tell you how to do something you already know wastes time and causes endless frustration.

Not giving you what you need to do your job

Artem/Adobe woman and man are interviewing in the office

The opposite of micromanagement is ensuring employees have the resources and information they need to do their jobs. That could be training, a manual, or access to a database. 

Whatever it is, your manager needs to get it to you promptly. If they aren’t, they’re failing to tackle one of the most important parts of their job.

Constantly ‘seeing both sides’ instead of resolving conflicts

alfa27/Adobe female discussing business deal

Being a good negotiator or mediator is a helpful skill in a manager, but only to a point. In the end, a manager was hired to make decisions. 

Whether they make the right call in every conflict or not, their goal should be to move a situation forward instead of keeping everyone mired in the same problems.

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Asking for feedback that they never apply

Studio Romantic/Adobe man speaker talks in front of employees at team seminar

Good leaders ask their peers and direct reports for frequent feedback. They accept it gracefully and offer their own constructive feedback in return.

But a leader who asks for constant feedback without adjusting based on that feedback is just wasting your time.

If you put in the work to offer valid and effective feedback, a manager should be spending at least as much time thinking through that feedback and how they want to apply it in the future.

Doing everything themselves instead of delegating

Elnur/Adobe businessman unhappy with excessive work

Bad managers sometimes think they’re helping by offering to take a certain task off your plate and doing it themselves.

However, one essential part of managing is knowing when to tackle a task yourself and when to delegate it to someone more qualified or with more time.

If your manager doesn’t know how to make that judgment call, they aren’t effectively managing anyone’s time or workload, including their own. While they might think they’re helping, they’re just slowing everything down in the long run.

Making you attend pointless meetings

Andrey Popov/Adobe portrait of sad business team

If a meeting takes up work time, it needs to be productive. Everyone there should be getting something out of it, whether that’s increased camaraderie between teammates or more information about how to do your job.

If your boss is holding meetings for the sake of holding meetings, that’s a waste of everyone’s time. So is failing to come to a meeting with a clear agenda or a lack of preparation.

Failing to give honest, helpful feedback

fizkes/Adobe employee sitting at workplace desk receiving appreciation from boss

A manager should be able to take feedback, but they need to be able to give it as well — and in a straightforward, constructive, honest way. 

Managers who struggle with people-pleasing often try to hint at a problem (or ignore it entirely) instead of dealing with it head-on in a professional way.

Unfortunately, managers who fail to be honest because they think they’re being kind can inadvertently sabotage your career. You deserve to know where you can improve and what your reputation is with your company. 

A manager who can’t give you that feedback is holding you back, not just at your current job but potentially throughout your working life.

Caring more about their image than their team

bnenin/Adobe work meeting

Is your boss helping you and your fellow employees succeed at work, or are they spending more time singing their own praises on LinkedIn or to the higher-ups?

If the former, your manager is creating more problems for your team than they’re solving.

A good manager should contribute much more time to your team’s management and well-being than presenting a perfect public-facing image.

Waiting too long to address a problem

Bojan/Adobe businesswoman shouting to a stressed employee at office

Some managers tend to take a wait-and-see approach to personnel or productivity problems. While patience can pay off in some circumstances, it’s not always the right choice. 

After all, a smaller problem is much easier to solve than a bigger one — and putting off a problem until it erupts destroys both time and morale.

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Focusing too much on data, facts, and figures

DC Studio/Adobe businessman reading charts on his tablet

Quantitative data is undoubtedly helpful in telling you how much you’re doing at work and where you and the company can stand to improve. 

But a manager who gets bogged down by the minute details instead of seeing the big picture can hold both you and the company back.

Insisting on perfection

Bojan/Adobe people arguing about document at the office

Sometimes a project doesn’t have to be perfect — it just needs to be good enough to pass muster.

If your manager obsesses over every last detail, sending projects back to you over and over until it measures up to impossibly high standards, they’re turning themselves into a roadblock.

Failing to help you prioritize tasks

Andreea Ardelean/Adobe businessman with too much work to do

In most companies, most of the time, every task doesn’t have equal weight.

A manager’s job is to help you figure out which tasks to tackle first or ensure you have the information you need to make the right judgment yourself.

Not using the right mode of communication

Sathaporn/Adobe angry boss complaining team about mistake in workplace

Have you ever said about a meeting, “This could have been an email”? 

It’s your boss’s job to make sure something that could be an email is an email — or that something that could be a Slack message is a Slack message, or that something that should be a meeting is a meeting.

Bottom line

LIGHTFIELD STUDIOS/Adobe businessman with cardboard box with office supplies

If your boss has been wasting your time in any of the ways listed above, it might be time to join the 50% of Americans who have quit because of a bad manager. 

If you’re looking for a transition out, try to find ways to make extra money while you search for a full-time replacement.

Good managers really do exist, and hopefully, you’ll find one who respects your time and empowers you in your career instead of holding you back.

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Author Details

Michelle Smith Michelle Smith has spent a decade writing for and about small businesses. She specializes in all things finance and has written for publications like G2 and SmallBizDaily. When she's not writing for work at her desk, you can usually find her writing for pleasure near large bodies of water.

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