Fair question, don’t you think? I mean, movies have been made about this. An obvious one, Horrible bosses 1 and 2, The Devil Wears Prada and who could forget Office Space?

The boss employee — relationship is a major factor in how happy, or not, we are in our jobs. Other factors include: the work we perform, what the company represents, work-life balance, a sense of belonging and autonomy, just to name a few. If some of these factors are a bit out of whack, we can still be pretty happy if the relationship we have with our manager is in good order.

A horrible boss can stifle innovation, create unhealthy stress, hinder team success and cause significant talent to head for the hills.

But before you label yourself, or someone else a horrible boss, it’s important to examine what constitutes a horrible boss.

Horrible boss behavior:

· Leads by fear

· Belittles and embarrasses

· Sets impossible deadlines

· Offers no support

· Favors others

· Yells and name calls

· Threatens

· Pits team members against each other

Now, you may have a boss that is not warm and fuzzy, she may not smile much or ask how your weekend was. He may be direct, gets to the point and forgets to say good morning. This is not horrible boss behavior, it’s simply his personality and it may work for some. No matter the personality of your boss, there are specific behaviors and traits that every manager should practice.

Great boss behavior:

· Listens

· Empathetic

· Supportive

· Develops and creates opportunity

· Clear on expectations

· Encourages

· Creates work-life balance

· Provides timely and specific feedback

· Inspires

· Leads with integrity

So even if your boss doesn’t engage in small talk, but possesses many of the qualities listed above, consider yourself lucky.

If you’re reading this and realize that you do indeed have a horrible boss, you owe it yourself to try to improve the situation before you, too, decide to head for the hills, especially if you like the work you’re doing, the people you work with and the company. Don’t let one horrible boss ruin an otherwise good job.

I have a horrible boss, what can I do?

· If you’re comfortable doing so, speak with your manager directly. Provide a recent, specific example of the situation, his behavior, how it impacted you and what he could do differently moving forward.

· Reach out to your human resources representative and provide specific examples on your boss’ behavior and how it impacts you. Encourage your peers to do the same.

· If your company offers an employee engagement survey, fill it out honestly. Hopefully the data is reviewed and some corrective action taken.

· If there is a company ethics line, call it and report your manager. These are confidential and will be investigated.

If you’re reading this and conclude that you, yourself are a horrible boss and want to change, good for you! There are things you can do to improve if you truly want to.

I am a horrible boss, what can I do?

· Get specifics aspect of your behaviors. You can do this via a 360 assessment, third party interviews or direct feedback. It’s important to know exactly what you need to change.

· Invest in a coach who can provide you will tools and alternative behaviors that are more in line with being a great boss.

· Watch, learn and apply from peers and colleagues that are exceptional bosses. Reach out, but her a coffee and ask for help.

If you’re serious about changing, sustained change, take the first few steps now, don’t wait. Announce to your team that you have received feedback on your leadership style and realize that it has not been good and requires immediate attention. Explain what you’re doing to improve and how you are fully committed to being the boss they need and deserve. Invite your team to provide you, or a third party, perhaps HR, with feedback on how you’re progressing. If you do this, listen to what they have to say and don’t be defensive. Lastly, sincerely apologize to your team for your lackluster performance as their manager. Your courage and vulnerability will be seen and respected. Your team will see you as human, rally around you and become your biggest cheerleaders.

If you’re a horrible boss and don’t want to change, see no need to change or simply don’t have the energy to change, you may want to consider moving to an individual contributor role as you are unfit to lead people. If this is not a viable option, do your team a favor and simply GO.

Originally published at medium.com