Working for a toxic boss is like a slow moving thunderstorm. In the beginning there are a few signs - dark clouds, a few rain drops, wind that blows you slightly off course. Then suddenly you're in the thick of the storm. Torrential rain, tree limbs falling, claps of thunder that make the walls shake.
Once you're in the middle of a storm you can't help but pay attention.
Here are behaviors I've seen toxic bosses do to their employees:
They give surprise negative feedback. Instead of getting it in the moment, it comes out during a performance review. Or it all builds up and the employee gets gorged on feedback all at once without much explanation.
Employees never know where they stand. Because feedback is scarce, working for a toxic boss feels like a guessing game. No one knows what success looks like, and you rarely know if you've reached it (or haven't reached it!).
They don't spend time with their team. There's rarely a drive-by to say good morning or ask how the family is doing. There aren't regular 1:1 meetings. No one feels comfortable stopping by the boss's desk to chat because it feels like interrupting.
No one feels valued. Not saying thank you or showing some kind of appreciation is a toxic behavior. It could mean A) the boss is jealous of your efforts, B) he/she doesn't think it's important to say thank you, or C) efforts went unnoticed. None of these are ok.
These behaviors are blinking lights. Unfortunately, toxic bosses are probably not self-aware or are rewarded for these behaviors (never getting feedback from their boss, always getting the big bonus, continuous promotion) so there is no reason to change.
What are your experiences with toxic bosses?