The Bad Boss Blues: Bad managers can demoralize a staff

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By Glenn Townes                                         

The success or failure of a department, unit or even an entire organization often depends on who is at the helm, according to thousands of experts in human resources management.
   
According to the results of a Gallup Poll last year of more than 1 million employed U.S. workers, the vast majority of workers quit or were forced out of their jobs because of a bad boss or supervisor. According to the poll, despite how well paying or prestigious a job may be, people will quit it if their direct report relationship is tenuous, unhealthy or poor. In a summary of the report, Gallup pollsters, “People leave managers not companies...in the end, employee turnover is mostly a manager issue and little else.”

Trudy Bourgeois, president and CEO of The Center for Workforce Development, a nationally recognized, human resource management and consulting firm based in Texas, said angry, aloof or self absorbed managers are often the cause of creating an uncomfortable, unproductive or even hostile work environment.  Bourgeois has consulted and advised dozens of corporate clients including Hallmark and 3M.

The Executive Leadership Council and Blue Cross and Blue Shield. She says habits such as  ignoring or being unresponsive to employee needs; being uncompromising and being self focused are common traits by poor managers. “Accountability and being hopeful and confident on how to execute and improve a project begins at the top,” Bourgeois said.  She adds, that when managers fail to accept responsibility for lapses or department shortfalls, they create an unproductive, lethargic and even volatile work environment.

Others agreed. Carla Harris,  vice chairman, Global Wealth Management and Senior Client advisor for financial services giant Morgan Stanley in New York said the old adage of a team being only as good as its leader is a tired, but indeed true cliche'. Harris a senior executive, financial advisor and author, has counseled and advised dozens of employees during her 30 plus years at the company. Harris said an amicable, professional and courteous manager will likely generate more work and get better results from an employee than a boorish, condescending or lackadaisical one. “If you are professional and approachable by your staff, they will go the extra mile for you and to make you look good,” Harris said. She added that employees will come in early; work late and take on special projects and complete tasks outside of their required work schedules for a well liked and amiable boss.

Lastly, given the current political state of the country—specifically out of Washington with phrases such as  “Abuse of power,” and “It's always someone else's
fault,” have become common place, a manager that repeatedly alienates employees and fosters a culture of blaming others, inflexibility, anxiety and distrust is the reason why good employees leave. John Challenger, a workplace expert and CEO of  Challenger, Gray & Christmas in Chicago—a nationally revered employment consultant and recruitment firms---offered these cogent tidbits of advice to those workers with a case of the bad boss blues.

- Accept the fact that it is YOU who will have to change. Your boss likely got his or her job by behaving tough, brash and curt. Few bosses see the light and believe that they are wrong and won't change.

- Don't respond to negativity with more negativity. Don't go off on your boss—no matter how tempting or cleansing it might be. You undoubtedly will end up making yourself the target of a smear campaign and ultimate revenge.

- If the boss's behavior blatantly violated company policy  or the law, go straight to Human Resources. In some cases, it might not be a bad idea to approach HR confidentially or even anonymously—an after hours memo slipped underneath an HR manager's door or a carefully placed note—mysteriously left on the HR copy or fax machine or sent via Interoffice mail.

- The last resort: find another job. Look for a new position inside your own organization or seek employment elsewhere—or start your own business. Be willing to sacrifice a salary decrease or longer commute for piece of mind.

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