It's not you—it's them.


A micromanaging, passive-aggressive boss can make the work you do each day feel pointless. And though they might feel great about the work they’re doing, it’s coming at the expense of your experience. According to a new study from the University of Sussex, published in the MIT Sloan Management Review, a bad boss can create a sense of pointlessness and destroy the work that, otherwise, would be meaningful to their employees.

Here, the “seven deadly sins” of managers—actions that lead workers to think of their work as meaningless—identified by researchers:

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1 They Disconnected You From Your Values.

According to the study, the number one reason people felt their work was meaningless was that management stressed opposing values. The usual culprit? The organization’s focus on profit. For example, nurses felt the integrity of their work was compromised when management forced them to send patients home before they were ready in order to free up bed space for new patients.

2 They Take You For Granted.

Humanity and hard work going unacknowledged was the second most common reason employees felt a disconnect from their work. For example, a stonemason described how his manager never said “good morning” to him. Other workers said being criticized for not speeding through time-consuming tasks also made them feel unappreciated.

3 They Give You Busy Work.

Researchers found that many workers felt a strong disconnect between what they thought they should be doing with their time and what they were actually doing. Workers viewed bureaucratic tasks—form filling and frequent project changes—as a waste of time.

4 They Treat You Unfairly.

Feel like you’re getting the short end of the stick? Whether it’s not getting paid back for expenses, not getting a raise due to budgeting limitations, or being bullied, feeling like you’re being treated unfairly is a large reason why you feel your work is pointless.

5 They Force You to Do Things Against Your Better Judgement.

Researchers say that managers make employees feel meaningless when they don’t listen. Workers want to feel that their voices, opinions, and experiences matter to their manager.

6 They Create a Culture of Isolation.

Employees tend to feel isolated when there’s a lack of camaraderie and connection to other people in the office.

7 They Put You at Risk of Being Unnecessarily Harmed—Physically or Emotionally.

In a corporate environment, certain risks may be necessary for both personal and business growth, but when risks are being taken unnecessarily, say, due to cost cutting measures, managers can make their employees feel dehumanized.