Tough or Toxic: The Cost of Bad Bosses

February 26, 2014

Psychologist Robert Hogan, an expert on personality assessments, told the 2012 annual meeting of the American Psychological Association that 75 percent of working adults say their immediate boss is the worst aspect and most stressful part of their job.

Bad Bosses and Turnover
Toxic bosses contribute to turnover, low employee engagement and low productivity.

Two-thirds of U.S. workers would take a better boss over a pay raise, according to Michelle McQuaid, another expert in positive psychology interventions in the workplace.

In her study, 31 percent of employees polled felt uninspired and unappreciated by their boss; nearly 15 percent felt lonely, bored and miserable.

Employees want managers they can look up to, learn from and who care about them as people. Dale Carnegie Training’s employee engagement study found:

  • Among those “very satisfied” with their immediate supervisor 49 percent were engaged.
  • Among those “very dissatisfied” with their immediate supervisor, 80 percent were disengaged.
  • Among fully engaged employees, 53 percent said they learned a lot from their supervisor.
  • Among employees not fully engaged, 19 percent said they learned a lot from their supervisor.
  • 62 percent of engaged employees said their manager sets a good example.
  • 25 percent of those not fully engaged said their manager sets a good example.
  • One third of employees think their managers cares about their personal lives; 54 percent of them are engaged.
  • Two thirds of employees do not believe their manager cares about their personal lives; 17 percent of them are engaged.

Srikumar Rao hears about problem managers all the time. He wrote the book on happiness at work. “Happiness at Work,” a best-seller published in 2010, and his now-legendary Creativity and Personal Mastery class make Dr. Rao a sought-after speaker across the globe.

Common subjects emerge regardless of geography.

“It does not matter whether I am in Hong Kong or Sao Paolo,” Dr. Rao has said. “People always want to talk about toxic bosses and what to do about them.”

Beleaguered employees want advice on coping. HR professionals want to know what training may help. C-suite executives want better ways to spot them before they cause too much damage.

Because damage they do. The quality of the relationship with a direct supervisor is the single factor most closely linked to whether an employee quits and goes or, “quits and stays,” becoming actively disengaged.

Multiple workplace experts estimate bad bosses are the root cause of 3 of 4 voluntarily job departures, though frustrated employees don’t always come right out and said it that way.

Gallup’s most recent research says employees cite these top three reasons for leaving: 1) career advancement or professional opportunities; 2) bad job fit; and 3) management or the “general work environment.”

The research, Gallup says, “shows that these managers from hell” create active disengagement that costs U.S. businesses $450 to $550 billion each year.

So what’s the solution? We know what it is not – promoting into management those without people skills or the willingness, with company-provided training, to acquire them.

Callibrain gives managers an easy way to provide direction and quick, positive feedback. 

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