Sunday, August 20, 2006
Evil Bosses Redux
Abusive or abrasive bosses have a major impact on the well-being of any corporation. They damage the mental and physical health of employees, causing higher rates of absenteeism and even provoking lawsuits. They also increase the costs of hiring and training new workers by forcing experienced employees to quit. According to Salt Lake City organizational behaviour expert Laura Crawshaw, a bad boss may not necessarily be a bad person. Although popular mythology depicts bad bosses as sadists, many may simply be insecure, unrealistically perfectionist, deficient in empathy, misguided - or a combination of all the above. Ostensibly "sadistic" bosses who bait or taunt their subordinates may only be attempting to motivate them, however perversely, and their verbal atrocities should be interpreted in that light. Beyond all else, Crawshaw counsels against demonizing bad bosses, as that prevents us from trying to improve them.
As much as I understand the "humane" approach to bad bosses, demonizing them is one of the few great pleasures of the working life and should never be completely abandoned. Nonetheless, this "forgive them for they know not what they do" perspective is highly satisfying as it belittles bad bosses, casting them as victims of their own syndromes - be those neurosis, psychosis, Tourette's or Asperger's. Perhaps by pitying them we can have it both ways, being "good people" exercising our "compassion" while at the same time finally achieving that reversal of status we have craved ever since our supposed "superiors" first mashed our souls into the ground like a cigarette butt under a bootheel.
"Tyrants make life miserable for their workers" from the Salt Lake Tribune