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Horrible bosses not just in Hollywood

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HC Online | 23 Aug 2011, 12:10 AM Agree 0
It may be the title of the latest Hollywood-blockbuster comedy, but having a horrible boss is the norm for many people in reality – and a real threat to employee retention, according to a recent survey.
  • Bernie Althofer | 23 Aug 2011, 03:20 PM Agree 0
    There is little doubt that everyone is under a lot of pressure in all workplaces. However, whilst some appear to be things right, that does not meant to say, improvements could not be made. It is not easy to be a boss in today's environment with so many internal and external demands that have to be met. Making hard decisions goes with the territory. That said, there may be some bosses who are perceived by the workers to fit into one or even more of the categories identified above. Environmental factors can play a contributing role in how bosses are view, and also how bosses view workers. It does take time to be a manager and to address the concerns of workers. However, given the pressures being faced, sometimes managers do not get rewarded for doing the 'people stuff', and hence survey results such as this. In reality, bosses and workers can have good and bad days, when some things will all just fall into place, and other days when everything turns to mush. The coping strategies identified can be used to advantage. However, it may take some practice in making them work. Sad to say, but there may be some people out there who really do understand and relate to the 'bad boss' and aspire to be like them. Maybe this is because the bad boss gets results, gets rewarded and this type of behaviour is seen as 'good'. However, there is no doubt many managers and bosses out there who look after their people, get the work down, get rewarded, acknowledge team contributions and make sure that teams are rewarded through training or other means. It really does take all types to make up a workplace. People do make mistakes in their roles. If they can learn and become better at what they do, should we be too critical of them? If they keep going with 'bad' management practices and people keep leaving, then that needs to be addressed. Sometimes though in reality, when everything has been tried, either the 'bad' boss has to go, or the worker/s leave.
  • Bernie Althofer | 24 Aug 2011, 10:55 AM Agree 0
    Whilst the preferred option for reducing the risk of litigation that might arise from the actions of a 'bad' boss, perhaps the circumstances leading to them being a 'bad' boss should be addressed. People with excellent technical or operational skills do get promoted to managerial positions. Sometimes they lack the managerial skills required in that position, and they are not provided with any learning and development opportunities to develop as a manager. They may have modelled their behaviours by watching others, some good, some not so good. Changing the environment by reducing some of the stressors that contribute to a 'bad boss syndrome' may also assist. It might also be a case that the 'bad' boss will not put up their hand and acknowledge any short comings for fear of 'looking bad' in the eyes of those responsible for promoting them. Stepping into the managers shoes is interesting. Sometimes you make the right decision and everyone cheers and other days, you make the wrong decision and people say you are a 'bad' boss. There should be some differentation between the boss who ocassionally does something 'bad' compared to the boss who consistently does 'bad' things. Sometimes the hard questions have to be asked and the behaviour confronted so that the root cause can be addressed. If a person is way out of their depth in a position, leaving them to cause damage to staff, the organisation and even to themselves is not beneficial to anyone. Most people like a bit of help if it is offered appropriately, without adverse criticism and with understanding and empathy.
  • Rod Sherwin, Tap4Health | 25 Aug 2011, 08:25 AM Agree 0
    While training can help a 'bad' boss develop better skills, what about dealing with the underlying emotional drivers of their behaviour. A micromanaging boss has an underlying emotion of insecurity and the need to stay in control; the Bully is usually covering up fear or anxiety; the Poor Communicator maybe distracted by stuff going on at home or be ambivalent about their job etc. If the underlying emotional drivers of the behaviours are cleared and healed then the behaviour would change as a result and you get better bosses and happier employees.
  • Bernie Althofer | 25 Aug 2011, 11:37 AM Agree 0
    Good point Rod. It comes down to dealing with the root cause, and if there is an underlying emotional driver, then that should be addressed. Unfortunately, it does seem that in some cases, the 'treatment' involves sending everybody off to 'training' about the 'bullying' policy. The issue is still there to be resolved and the problems continue to develop.
  • Bernie Althofer | 29 Aug 2011, 11:09 AM Agree 0
    There are horrible bosses who simply in the wrong job, and no amount of discussion will get them out there. Some of these horrible bosses lack leadership and management skills and simply undertake an 'administrator role' i.e. shuffling paper. When it comes to making decisions, they always have to pass it up the line, and rarely provide positive feedback, assistance or support and recognition for work well done. The only thing these horrible bosses is successful at is creating a demotivated work group who only turn up so they can get paid. They become very successful in creating a belief that the workplace is functioning well because the paper work goes through and they present a story to upper management that 'everyone is happy'. So, the horrible boss does not necessarily have to be male or female, loud mouth, extrovert who uses abusing or aggressive language. Sometimes they can be introverted, very process driven, lack good communication and team building skills, and push their own agenda covertly. They don't necessarily do bad things, it might just the case that they have been promoted six levels higher than they should have been, they do not understand the benefits of personal self development, and they try and keep everyone in their place by controlling budgets to prevent growth. Any attempts to discuss opportunities for improvement are met with hostility as they view these comments as a personal attack or even 'upwards bullying'. Getting these type of people to deal with any fears or anxiety can be difficult even if an 'outsider' approaches them to discuss workplace concerns. It is also interesting to sit on the sidelines and watch the dynamics of such a workplace. Workers complain about the 'management practices' of the 'administrator' behind their back, but when in the same room as the manager, they sing their praises. Dealing with the 'manager' is part of the solution. Dealing with the fears and concerns of the workers is another part of the equation. There is still a lot of work to be done.
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