The big, bad boss: Poor management costly

Becky Ripper

Nearly everyone I know has had a bad boss at one time or another during their careers. A recent Gallup poll of more than 1 million employed U.S. workers confirmed the No. 1 reason people quit their jobs is a bad boss or immediate supervisor. “People leave managers, not companies … . In the end, turnover is mostly a manager issue,” Gallup reported. Gallup also reported that poorly managed work groups are on average 50 percent less productive and 44 percent less profitable than well-managed groups. 

And when conducted its own online survey,  it found that half of us would fire our own bosses if we could. Numerous studies conducted around the world during the past several decades have drawn similar conclusions, noting that 75 percent of workers report that their immediate supervisors are the most stressful part of their jobs.

That being said, perhaps it is time for your company to evaluate those in supervisory positions. Or if YOU are the boss or supervisor, perhaps you might want to evaluate your own leadership techniques. 

We each have the potential to become a great leader or boss. Whether we foster or suppress that potential is up to us. Bosses’ relationships with their employees play an integral part in employees’ attitudes and, ultimately, their success at work. It takes time and effort to build trust and a good working relationship with those you supervise.

Can you relate to any of these bad boss characteristics?

  • Arrogant, prideful, inflexible and always right.
  • Untrustworthy, no principles and afraid to share information.
  • Poor communicator who fails to give solid directions.
  • Fails to recognize good performance or offer effective performance feedback.
  • Unpredictable behavior or moods.
  • Takes credit for others’ work and faultless.
  • Micro manages while not allowing freedom and creativity.
  • Negligent in developing employees or helping them get ahead.
  • Inappropriate or unfair discipline — shows favoritism.
  • Intimidates or bullies.
  • Has no respect for employees’ privacy or rights

The negative effects of bad management practices are numerous, but to name a few: deflated employee morale, stress that results in sometimes serious health issues for employees and costs to the company in terms of high turnover and low productivity.

What’s more, disgruntled and mishandled employees could decide to retaliate and you could end up in court.  Each time a company is out of compliance with regulations or goes to court, there’s cost in terms of not only dollars, but also image.

 Business owners must have the proper policies in place and manage and enforce those policies. If you have a good human resource manager or senior executive who’s paying attention, hopefully they’re working on an exit strategy for the big, bad boss.

It’s imperative to recognize what makes a boss bad and to take steps to ameliorate the problems they can cause — either by getting the bad boss to change or by changing the bad boss.

5 Responses to "The big, bad boss: Poor management costly"

  1. Scott Hodgson   July 22, 2013 at 2:56 pm

    Hi Becky, I appreciate this article and was wondering if you have the link to the gallup poll or know the web address. I am doing a research project for a graduate class and this topic fits in my literature review perfectly. Thanks and keep writing!

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  3. Bob   February 24, 2014 at 1:44 pm

    Awesome article Becky – it was mentioned in comments at LinkedIn’s How Not to Choose a Manager. Your observations are spot on IMO and many just don’t know how to treat people. I’ve left two different companies solely because of controlling, ego-centric managers that should not be in those roles. I think a lot of companies have upper-level managers that either hired or promoted a boss and they don’t want to admit they’re not a good fit, because that would make them look bad. Truly unfortunate that this dynamic exists, and employees really don’t have a way out, because if they complain, well, then they’re complaining. It may be my impression, but I think it’s an accurate one, that much more trust exists between managers and HR. Your bad boss characteristic list is similar to the contrasts I’ve seen in “boss vs leader” Google searches.

  4. gjlebeau   March 9, 2015 at 11:43 am

    Scott – Did you ever find a link to the Gallup poll?

  5. Sherri Jonest   December 7, 2016 at 5:42 pm

    Excellent article Becky and spot on. Just went through this horrible experience, the first time its happened to me in 27 years!!! I would love to post this article on LinkedIn but I am not allowed to post because I don’t represent a company. Would love to see this article make it to LinkedIn. My previous boss fired 26 employees within 4 years. You would think HR would do something about it but they don’t. They lost many good people because of 1 bad apple.