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4 Scary Managers (and How to Avoid Becoming Them)

Halloween is just around the corner, and while scaring employees with a spooky costume might be harmless, scaring employees with your behavior year-round is another story entirely.

A recent survey by B2B marketplace Approved Index found that 42 percent of employees have left a job because of their boss. What’s more, 30 percent of the 1,374 employees surveyed feel their current boss is a bad manager. The numbers say it all: people aren’t leaving their jobs, they’re leaving their bosses.

To give you an idea of what’s scaring away these employees, here are four famously scary fictional bosses — and how to avoid becoming them:

1. Miranda Priestly, The Devil Wears Prada

What makes her scary: Icy demeanor

Perhaps the scariest of them all, Miranda Priestly is a force to be reckoned with. The fictional editor-in-chief is best known for her cold demeanor and the emotional (and psychological) abuse she dishes out on a daily basis. She has all the characteristics of a true ice queen: intimidating, dismissive, and just plain rude.

If you want to get the most out of your employees in terms of ideas, suggestions, and feedback, the last thing you want to do is completely dismiss their every effort to contribute. Instead, welcome and recognize individual and overall employee contributions. Provide a safe environment to encourage employees to speak up and take part.

2. Bill Lumbergh, Office Space

What makes him scary: Passive-aggression

One word: TPS Reports.

This stickler for paperwork is every employee’s worst nightmare. His passive-aggressive behavior is almost scarier than the overly aggressive nature of bosses like Miranda Priestly. To make matters worse, his passive-aggression accompanies a highly ineffective management style (i.e., micro).

Employees work best when they’re given freedom — freedom to create, freedom to try new things, and, above all else, freedom from micromanagers who only distract and limit employees. Instead of managing employees’ every move, take a step back and give employees a better sense of autonomy when they work.

As for Lumbergh’s infamous passive-aggressive behavior, try to find a nice in-between. Be assertive without being aggressive. Be honest without being passive, “mmmkay?”

3. Montgomery Burns, The Simpsons

What makes him scary: Greed

Montgomery Burns is as scary as it gets. He did, after all, attempt to block out the sun in an effort to increase electricity usage produced by his nuclear plant. Burns’ greed has no end and fuels his indifference to his employees (and the general population).

A business is only as good as the employees behind it (which says a lot about the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant).

And, according to Gallup’s State of the American Manager report, employees are only as engaged in their work and invested in their company as their managers are. In fact, employees who are supervised by highly engaged managers are 59 percent more likely to be engaged than those supervised by actively disengaged managers. I think it’s safe to say Burns is the latter.

To find true success, you have to first encourage, support, and celebrate it within the workplace.

4. Dave Harken, Horrible Bosses

What makes him scary: Lies

This guy takes “trick or treat” seriously. Unfortunately for Harken’s employees, there’s a lot more trick than treat. Take this scene from Horrible Bosses, for instance. Harken used the promise of a promotion to “motivate” when, in fact, he had no intention of following through on his promise.

A good manager strives to keep their word, especially when it comes to employee recognition. Forty-one percent of employees cited a lack of recognition as the primary reason they disliked their managers in the Approved Index survey mentioned earlier. It’s best to keep your promises to employees, or avoid making promises you can’t keep.

Fortunately there are other — sometimes better — ways to motivate and recognize employees, from a simple pat on the back to professional development opportunities to some much-needed R & R.

Who else can you add to the list? What makes them so scary?

Matt Straz is founder and CEO of Namely, the all-in-one HR, payroll, and benefits platform built for today’s workplace. Namely, his third startup, closed its Series C round of funding in June of 2015. Headquartered in New York City, Namely helps innovative organizations everywhere build engaging company cultures and manage everything HR. Matt is a weekly contributor to Entrepreneur and frequently writes for several other publications about human resources, startups, and technology. Follow him on Twitter: @mattstraz.