Thursday, January 25, 2007


HR Surveys Take On Bad Bosses

Here are some more studies about bad bosses and the employees who hate them. The results of one survey, published in the British journal Personnel Today, suggest that office politics is the biggest cause of stress in the workplace - primarily because bosses tend to be better at playing their subordinates off one another than leading them straightforwardly. 90 percent of the survey's respondents indicated that their bosses habitually failed to act on or correct poor performance - thus forcing other employees to pick up the slack from non-performers - and 89 percent said that their bosses lacked the power to innovate. Methinks there are a lot of passive-aggressive personality types in those corner offices across the pond. Hypocritical ones as well.

Many employees complained of bosses who impose deadlines arbitrarily, pushing their employees to scramble at the last minute to get them something and then, once they get it, going off on a long weekend or not getting back to their subordinates for days at a time. White collar Britons register "disgust for phoney deadlines". They interpret these as yet another example of the "do as I say, not as I do" attitude of corporate managers, and of the lack of reciprocity among corporations in general when it comes to the sacrifices of their hard-working underlings. While the little people slave away, procrastination abounds even in corporate boardrooms, where the big guys drag their feet most egregiously when it comes to giving the ax to underperforming CEOs.

A recent American study, conducted by Florida State University and slated for publication this year in The Leadership Quarlerly, found that employees who stuck with abusive managers experienced "more exhaustion, job tension, nervousness, depressed mood and mistrust." Diminished morale affected their productivity and stifled their initiative, causing them not to volunteer for new assignments or work late at the office. Large percentages of the workers surveyed by the study cited the same managerial failings. For instance:

1) 39 percent said their bosses failed to keep their promises.

2) 37 percent said their bosses failed to give credit where it was due.

3) 27 percent said their bosses made negative remarks about them to other employees and managers.

4) 24 percent said their bosses repeatedly invaded their privacy.

5) 23 percent said their bosses blamed others for their own mistakes.

As you might infer from the above, American bosses are no less passive-aggressive than British ones.

The authors of the American study, however, cautioned workers not to run and hide from their bosses, but to remain "visible" and "optimistic". Bad bosses, after all, last just so long. Yeah, and then they get replaced by other bad bosses.

"Bad bosses--more than bad salaries--drive workers away" from Society for Human Resource Management
"Bad bosses cost companies in morale, turnover: survey" from Business Edge (Canada)
"Bad bosses put pressure on staff" from TimesOnline (UK)

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