Bad bosses are too common in the workplace today. In a survey by HRD Mag, it was discovered that 87% of American employees have been under a toxic boss at least once.
Yes, it might be easy to spot a toxic boss from afar. However, a two-faced boss is harder to identify. This is why it’s a good idea to know the 10 signs your boss is two-faced. I’ll also provide some tips on how to deal with them (besides quitting and finding a new job). So let’s go!
What Does Two-Faced Mean?
Before I dive into the signs, it’s helpful to know what exactly two-faced means. This way, you can identify your own signs that are not included in my list.
According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, two-faced falls under 3 descriptions – double-dealing, false, or having two faces. From that, we can draw that a two-faced boss is someone who has contrasting behavior.
On the one hand, they seem like a good boss. But the next day, they show signs of toxicity. If you’re caught thinking or saying, “My boss is mean, then nice”, then chances are they are two-faced.
Let’s say your boss acts friendly and supportive in certain situations. However, in other situations, they are deceptive, harsh, and untrustworthy.
The bottom line: A two-faced boss is inconsistent in their behavior and may present different sides of themselves depending on the circumstances. This can lead to a lack of trust and a challenging working environment for employees.
10 Signs Your Boss Is Two-Faced
OK, to help you, here are 10 signs that your boss has two faces:
- They lie
- They are fake nice
- They overpromise
- They quickly blame you for mistakes but hardly say thanks when you do well
- They’re unpredictable
- They love workplace gossip
- They constantly change their mind
- They’re passive-aggressive or ignore you
- They always whisk away projects
- They throw tantrums easily
1. They lie
Does your boss always lie? Maybe it’s a promise they make but never fulfill it. Maybe they give false reassurances.
A two-faced boss won’t hesitate to go back on their word or deny a previous agreement, or conversation.
If this is the case, then your boss is someone you can’t trust. In turn, this will create a toxic work environment.
2. They are fake nice
A two-faced boss may be very nice to you. However, your coworker comes and says that they are talking about you behind your back. Or it could be the other way around – they are nice to your coworkers but act completely differently when they are not around.
Here’s one example. Say your boss always smiles, greets everyone warmly, and even expresses appreciation for the teams’ efforts. But when it comes to individual interactions, they shift to a critical and condescending tone.
They are great in public but terrible in private. The problem with this is that you may feel uncertain about where you stand. This will make it a very uneasy and stressful environment.
3. They overpromise
You can spot a two-faced boss if they’re constantly making promises. And yes, promises that never come true. Here’s what Lynn Taylor, owner of Lynn Taylor Consulting, says:
You might have been promised a series of promotions, increased responsibility, or a raise, but all you get is silence. It’s often helpful to get to the truth through emails if one-on-one discussions are getting you nowhere. If the responses aren’t coming via email, or at all, be wary.
Be wary as you can be dealing with a terrible boss that has two faces. Again, this can cause mistrust in the work scene.
4. They quickly blame you for mistakes but hardly say thanks when you do well
This shows that your boss is never consistent (in other words, has two faces). They’re so fast to blame you. They don’t even wait for a private setting – they do it in front of others.
OK, maybe they have good reason to blame you (though it’s never good to do it publicly). However, it becomes a big problem when it’s time to give praise and thanks, but they never do it. Talk about being inconsistent!
5. They’re unpredictable
Here’s how Pat Finnegan describes an unpredictable boss’s behavior:
Your boss acts completely differently when angry, stressed, or around certain people. Huge swings in behavior can indicate a two-face boss’ true nature.
So maybe for most of the time, you can get along with your boss. You might even consider them a good boss. But in certain situations, it becomes a toxic workplace because of how they behave.
If your boss is very unpredictable, this can disrupt productivity. Imagine this: During one of these episodes, they abruptly change project priorities without clear communication. This sudden shift leaves the team disoriented, as you were all working on the initial goals.
6. They love workplace gossip
Gossiping among colleagues is a big NO in the workplace. Now imagine if your boss loves gossiping and spreading rumors. It will be even worse since they’re in a manager’s position.
Sure, you may meet people who love to gossip but with innocent intentions. But a two-faced boss who gossips is most likely using it for wrong intentions.
Maybe they never liked you and want others to feel the same. But instead of going directly to you and talking, they spread false rumors and gossip about you to your coworkers or other managers.
7. They constantly change their mind
Here’s a less obvious sign that your boss has two faces. For these types of bosses, they don’t necessarily have to be toxic managers. Say they’re great at what they do.
However, if they’re constantly changing their minds, that can lead to counterintuitive and unproductive results. Remember, fickle bosses are just as challenging as toxic bosses.
8. They’re passive-aggressive or ignore you
The team at Business Insider says, “One of the most unnerving, telltale signs of a terrible boss is one who rarely lets you know where you (or they) stand.” This can be done through being passive-aggressive towards you or completely ignoring you.
Trust me, your motivation will drop if your boss seems all nice and friendly, but turns out they’re backstabbing you. Or maybe they’re trying to make your life harder in indirect ways. This is what passive-aggressive behavior can look like.
On the other hand, it won’t do, too, if your boss completely ignores you. In a survey by PwC, approximately 60% of employees stated that they would work harder if provided with daily or weekly feedback.
9. They always whisk away projects
Say your boss gives you an assignment for Monday. But when Monday arrives, they say they reassigned it to Joe at the next desk. How would you feel about that? Not good, I’m sure.
Sadly, this is what a two-faced boss does. Since they have two personalities, they always change things up in the moment. You can see why that can cause so many workplace problems.
10. They throw tantrums easily
Finally, a two-faced boss is someone who can’t control their emotions. Why is this a sign that your boss has two faces? Well, they have different attitudes for varying states.
If the circumstance is stressful, they lash out. If the workplace is nice and calm, they’re nice and calm, too. A boss like this can easily drain everyone. No one is ever safe from their tantrums.
How to Deal With a Two-Faced Boss
OK, now you know the signs your boss is two-faced. When you identify this personality, you need to know how to deal with it. Here are 6 helpful tips to consider:
- Be respectful but distant. A two-faced boss isn’t going to be an outright toxic person. This is why it’s a good idea to still have a decent relationship with them. This may just make your life easier. However, I say keep your distance because they can do a lot of damage, whether it’s through hurtful, manipulative, or disruptive behavior.
- Don’t believe everything your boss says. As we saw, a two-faced boss is very indecisive and inconsistent. This is why you shouldn’t take anything they say seriously. If you want to confirm, you can go and have a private talk with them. Communication is the key here.
- Develop trust with your coworkers. Yes, you can’t have a positive work environment with a two-faced boss overlooking the team. However, you can do what you can. In this case, you can build trust with your coworkers and help each other get through tasks. If the team trust each other, that will be more than enough to get tasks done effectively and efficiently. It may also make the atmosphere less stressful and uncertain.
- Don’t engage in any gossip with your boss. You want to build trust with your coworkers? You don’t want to be the person your boss gossips about? Then never encourage it. If your boss starts gossiping to you, turn on your “neutral mindset”. Never engage. Pat Finnegan says, “A boss who gossips with you is not a sign of trust. It’ll not bring you any benefit.”
- Keep clear records. Whenever your boss tells you something, it’s a good idea to make a detailed record of it. This way, when they counter what they said, you can prove that they said it. Don’t allow them to thrive on their lies.
- Stand your ground. When dealing with a two-faced boss, it’s good to be assertive. This will help you set boundaries between you and your boss. If you hate when they switch projects constantly, you can stand up and speak out about it. Of course, you need to do this respectfully. You don’t want them to go full-on passive-aggressive on you.
What are the signs your boss is two-faced? In a nutshell, you can identify a boss with two faces when they behave one way and behave another way the next time. Some examples of these are when they always overpromise, lie, gossip, be fake nice, etc.
If you’re dealing with this, follow the 6 tips I provided. This won’t take away the negative atmosphere, but it might make work life so much better.