A number of years ago, I wrote an article for The Albuquerque Journal titled “How to Set a Bad Manager on a Better Path”. At that time, I remarked that if one did a Google search on the keywords “bad manager” there would be more than 7 million hits. Now the same search yields more than four times that number. And what is more striking is that the websites devoted to the topic of “bad managers” have gone from telling stories about them to actually rating them – and naming names!
One such site is http://ebosswatch.com. The basic premise of this site is that workplace bullying is fast becoming THE critical work place issue and that “nobody should have to work for a jerk”. So this site allows employees to rate their bosses and lists the results by name and organization. Since I spend a lot of my time teaching new and experienced managers how to be great managers, I did a quick search of my client organizations and fortunately found them missing from the list!
Bad managers have been around for decades. And study after study indicates that employees leave organizations for reasons related to a bad boss. Conversely, more recent research from within major companies shows that great managers help employees feel totally engaged and willing to go that extra mile. So why does the problem persist?
I think there are at least three reasons:
- Organizations promote outstanding individual contributors into the management role by making the assumption that a great individual contributor will also be a great manager. The reality is that being a successful manager requires an entirely different set of competencies than being a successful individual contributor.
- Many organizations take a “they’ll figure it out approach” to training new managers. Unless an organization helps a new manager become self-aware, value style differences, manage performance, and realize that they are now accountable for getting work done through others, the probability of that new manager being successful is left totally to chance.
- Many organizations are scared to deal with a jerk. Unlike fine wine, bad managers will not improve with age. Organizations need to hold managers accountable for not only what business results they achieve, but how they achieve them and deal swiftly with problem managers.
I am interested in hearing your thoughts about the causes and cures for the persistent problem of bad managers.