The making of a bad boss: Decoded

The making of a bad boss: Decoded

That bosses are infamous for being unreasonable and mean is no secret. But according to two separate surveys that have grabbed headlines recently, there are two very distinct bad boss characteristics that have been identified as the most unacceptable. 

Taking credit for a subordinate’s work is the worst

HR software firm Bamboo HR surveyed over 1,000 employees to rate 24 ‘typical boss behaviors’ ranging from ‘totally acceptable’ to ‘totally unacceptable’. The one thing that unanimously ticked everybody off was their boss laying claim for their hard work. This one trait of bad bosses topped others like micromanaging, expectation setting, lack of trust and support. Here is a list of things that made it to the top worst bad boss behaviors: 

  • Taking credit for your work
  • Doesn’t appear to trust or empower you
  • Doesn’t appear to care if you are overworked 
  • Doesn’t appear to advocate for when you when it comes to monetary compensation
  • Hires and/or promotes the wrong people
  • Doesn’t back you up when there’s dispute between you and one of your company’s clients 
  • Doesn’t provide proper direction on assignments/roles
  • Micromanages you and doesn’t allow you the ‘freedom to work’
  • Focuses more on your weaknesses than your strengths 
  • Doesn’t set clear expectations

The results also showed that more than millennials, older employees are more likely to find bosses who falsely take credit unacceptable. What’s appalling is the fact that 17% of the respondents admitted to their boss taking credit for their work as being the primary reason for leaving a job in the past. Furthermore, 44% said that their boss has been a primary reason they have quit a job. The management style, attitude, temper and behavior of bosses– all were reportedly reasons for employees leaving their jobs. What’s more, the more the bosses an employee has had, the more they are likely to have quit because of a boss. Interestingly, when the bosses were asked about the same behavioral traits exhibited by their employees, lesser bosses thought of the same as ‘unacceptable’. “20 percent fewer managers feel these behaviors are unacceptable”, the report says. The study also found that what is considered bad behavior by a boss differs according to the gender of the respondent.

Rusty Lindquist, VP of strategic HR insights and product marketing at Bamboo HR, says, “We all want to see the fruit of our labors. It’s that very process that incentivizes an organization to cultivate the trees that produce. However, if organizations are not careful they can end up cultivating a culture of credit takers instead of value producers. It then becomes a race to see who can take credit the fastest… If making them aware doesn’t help, then it might be a good time to go to HR and help raise their awareness, because the truth is, if you’re affected, others will be too.”

Bosses affect culture negatively

Comparably asked 20,000 employees at small, medium and large public and private technology firms between March 2016 and June 2017 about how good their boss has been at his/her job. “The results show bosses have plenty of room for improvement”, the report says. Here are the noteworthy findings of the study:

  • A third of the respondents are of the view that their boss has a negative impact on workplace culture. While 31% of the men believe this, 39% of the women are of the same opinion. 
  • People employed in the business development and administrative roles are most likely to say that their bosses hurt the culture. Workers in HR are least likely to say the same. 
  • Younger workers are most positive about their boss’ impact on the work culture, whereas those between the ages of 56-60 are most negative, with 38% saying their boss is bad for culture. 
  • The biggest thing that employees want their bosses to work on is communication (50%), followed by accountability (20%), positivity (14%), honesty (9%), and work ethic (7%).
  • Nearly one-third of the respondents are of the opinion that they could do a better job if they were given the role of their manager. While 36% of the men believe the same, 34% women do hold the viewpoint.
  • Employees in business development and legal departments are most likely to think that they can do a better job than their bosses, and workers in HR are the least likely. 
  • The first thing people would improve if they were the boss is vision and strategy (33%), followed by improving office culture (23%), increase employee pay (22%), make a better product (16%) and cut expenses (6%). 
  • About 60% of the respondents are comfortable giving their bosses negative feedback, with 64% of the men and 58% of the women saying this. 

The two surveys simply drive home the point that organizations need to work on improving the relationship between their workers and managers. Open, effective and two-way communication is one way to ensure that workplace culture, employee relationship, and productivity does not go for a ride. The tricky part is achieving and sustaining the same. Until organizations can do the same, the relationship between an employee and manager is unlikely to be open, honest and mutually beneficial. 

Source: People Matters

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