Work

This is the worst kind of bad boss, according to 28,000 workers

Steve Carell as Michael Scott on 'The Office.'
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Employees agree the most common type of bad boss isn't one who's disrespectful or unsupportive — it's one who doesn't know how to do their job.

That's the consensus among 28,000 workers across Europe who were asked to score their manager in seven leadership categories, including their ability to: provide feedback, be respectful, offer recognition, get the job done, encourage employee development, facilitate teamwork and support workers.

On a scale from 1 to 5, "bad" bosses were those who received a score below 3.

The bosses who scored the lowest overall: the ones who failed in "getting the job done," according to their employees.

"Our conclusions are consistent with the idea that a bad boss tends to be someone who lacks sufficient competence," writes study co-author Amanda Goodall in the Financial Times. Researchers from University of London, Warwick University and University of Wisconsin contributed to the report.

Researchers say this lack of competence could be due to what's known as the Peter Principle, or the concept that managers are routinely promoted one level too high relative to their abilities. This phenomenon can have a negative ripple effect on workers, who may be left scrambling when their boss doesn't know how to complete specific tasks of the job and can't help their employees succeed.

What to do when you have an incompetent boss

Workers who feel this way will likely have to be proactive and initiate a conversation with their manager, says LinkedIn career expert Blair Decembrele. "Frame this as being a way to help improve both your performance and the company's overall success," Decembrele tells CNBC Make It.

Monster.com career expert Vicki Salemi says workers can also try to shape their own behavior to make up for a boss who lacks know-how and leadership. A worker with a micromanaging boss, for example, may learn to over-communicate and set their own deadlines in order to keep a project on track, Salemi explains.

That said, an incompetent boss "is probably a bigger issue reflective of the environment and can also create frustration among employees and decreased morale," she says.

This situation could be a sign that it's time to move onward and upward.

"When you don't believe your manager is good at his or her job and you realize you can be doing a much better job, reality is: You are probably right," Salemi says. "So why not look for a new job externally where you are, in fact, in that higher role?"

Employees want their bosses to be invested in their career development

Bad bosses identified in the study also tended to receive particularly low scores in their attention to employee development.

That should be a red flag for employers, considering 94% of employees say they would stay at a company longer if it invested in helping them learn, according to a LinkedIn report.

What's more: LinkedIn data indicates an inability to learn and grow at work is the No. 1 reason why millennial and Gen Z workers would leave their jobs. Young professionals feel growth opportunities are even more important than getting a raise.

"If you don't feel supported in your employee development," Salemi says, "speak to your boss and engage him or her and make it a dialogue, not a monologue. Research ways you can develop your career such as internal and/or external training programs and conferences. Find out if there's a budget you can tap into, identify the skill sets and key learnings you want to pursue and get approval to go for it."

Employees agree their bosses respect them overall

Overall, just 13% of workers from the study rated their boss as bad. And one bright spot: Even bosses with the lowest scores tended to be rated well in the category of respecting their employees.

"Regarding bosses scoring well on respect for workers, that's a great sign," Salemi says. "Respect and recognition are key to a healthy, positive work environment, and a simple, 'Thank you, good job!' goes a very long way."

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