It’s too expensive to invest time, energy and resources into dealing with the fallout of bad bosses who compel their employees – often the best performers – to leave.
By Terina Allen
We’ve all heard the sayings. People don’t leave companies, they leave managers. People don’t quit their jobs, they quit their bosses. The way I see it, people just really don’t won’t to work for a boss who doesn’t support them or for one whose poor and ineffectual behavior actually puts employees’ career prospects and promotional opportunities at risk.
Bad bosses compel good employees to leave their jobs even when they like the company. This is how:
They diminish employees by trying to control and micromanage them.
When supervisors micromanage employees, they diminish employee performance and underutilize available employee talent. This means that the organization doesn’t get the benefit of hiring great people with experiences, skills and creativity. Employees tend to shrink in their roles when their bosses micromanage them by doing this.
They neglect to solicit staff input.
Supervisors who neglect to solicit staff input cause employees to disengage. Bad bosses don’t really value their employees, and the employees can feel it. In turn, they stop making their best effort. When you don’t feel appreciate and valued, you are less likely to bring your best self to work, and you are less likely to flourish on your projects.
When a boss asks for staff input, he creates an environment for staff to invest in the outcomes and engage in processes. Engaged employees feel appreciated and valued at work. They are committed to organizational success because they believe their supervisors and managers are also committed to their success.
Bad bosses create “yes men” by rewarding perpetual agreement with their ideas and decisions and punishing dissenters. They seek to hire and surround themselves with people who will uplift their own fragile egos even when it is detrimental to organizational success.
Well-intentioned, good employees can actually find themselves having internal struggles working with these kinds of bosses. They want to support their superiors and help to advance goals. But they also want to be free to be authentic and share divergent ideas. Too often, bad bosses turn good employees into “yes men” who remain silent and support even unethical behaviors in a desire to reap some professional benefit and continue getting along with the boss.
They fail to provide resources and can’t be bothered to remove obstacles.
All supervisors must get these two things right if they are to be deemed effective. Effective supervisors must provide resources and they must remove obstacles to ensure their employees and teams can be successful. Bad bosses don’t even take the time to evaluate what is truly necessary for success. They aren’t asking thoughtful, strategic questions or making employees feel safe enough to request what they need.
The boss is responsible for helping to ensure your success. I believe that when we get hired, we have a responsibility to make our bosses look good to the extent possible (so long as we aren’t asked to violate the law, our professionalism or our integrity). Certainly, bosses are responsibility to make their employees look good as well. Good bosses listen for and respond to your needs. Bad bosses don’t.
They have an integrity deficit and display unethical behavior.
Bad bosses don’t often look beyond their own needs and interests, and they operate from a perspective of what works for them should work for everyone. These type of supervisors often challenge good employees to compromise their own integrity and ethics in order to remain in good graces. When you work for someone who lacks integrity and ethics, you risk damaging your own reputation. People are likely to assume that you condone the unethical decisions of your boss or believe your integrity is just as deficient.
It could really hurt your own leadership prospects if your supervisor is willing to behave unethically, unprofessionally or illegally and you continue working for him.
Bad Boss Honorable Mentions:
In addition to the five detailed above, here are several more ways bad bosses cause good employees to leave:
- They excessively avoid or excessively create conflict. Bad bosses thrive in chaos because it is more difficult to hold them accountable for performance failures in a chaotic culture.
- They take credit for success and blame others for mistakes. Bad bosses will quickly throw employees under the bus if it benefits them even in small ways.
- They lack cultural competence. Bad bosses aren’t committed to diversity and don’t value inclusion.
- They fail to provide stretch assignments or promotional opportunities. Bad bosses don’t consider the career paths or goals of their employees.
- They demote or promote staff based on subjective, rather than objective, merits. Bad bosses reward those who support their bad behaviors.
- They intimidate and bully employees and colleagues. Bad bosses create toxic and hostile environments without regard for how it negatively impacts others. They do it because they are insecure. They do it because they are afraid. They do it because they can.
- They use their authority or power to sexually harass or abuse employees. Bad bosses abuse their power and attempt to get others to submit to their inappropriate desires.
What to do about it?
Don’t let bad bosses drive good employees out. It is up to you to develop or drive out the bad bosses instead.
If you have the organizational authority, start to hire (and develop) better bosses. These are the ones who aren’t afraid to step back and let their employees shine.
Develop effective leaders who will make it a priority to do the most important things for staff – mainly, provide resources and removes obstacles so they can do their best work. If you think it is too expensive to invest in leadership development for your supervisors, you are wrong. It’s too expensive to invest time, energy and resources into dealing with the fallout of bad bosses (poor and ineffective supervisors) who compel their employees – often the best performers – to leave.
If you don’t have the organizational authority to hire or develop better supervisors, you – as an employee at any level – have the responsibility to advocate for yourself.
Apply your best communication and conflict resolution skills and speak up. You have a voice, and you can (and should) ask for what you want or need to achieve organizational goals and be successful in your role.
If you’ve exhausted all efforts and still a bad boss persists, you have the option to leave. Your boss will have a huge impact on your career success. Of all the things you need from your supervisor, you really need for him to provide resources and remove obstacles. If he fails to do this even after your direct attempts to create change, you should get a better boss.