Management Update : The Bad Boss Effect

Does an employee leave a company or a boss? It’s a “myth” that employees quit because of their supervisor, says Douglas Klein, whose New York-based company, Sirota Consulting, surveys employees nationwide. It’s really the culture of an organisation or an environment that makes the difference in employee morale, he says.

Some Human Resources experts and employees disagree. They say the direct supervisor is often the reason an employee decides to exit from a job. “For the most part, people leave because of their boss,” says Joan McCormick, Human Resources Director for Eastern Financial Florida Credit Union. “Employees might come to a company for their environment and culture.

” Who’s right? Probably both. Bosses can make a great difference, but how employees are treated overall by an employer also is crucial. Wendy Grant, an Administrative Assistant for Eastern Financial, says that she has stayed at the credit union for eight years because of her “incredible” managers and employee benefits. On Halloween this year, she sched uled time to be at a school parade to see her children, Cameron, 10, and Catalin, 7, in costume.

Her managers have been equally understanding when her children are sick. “They’re willing to work with me when I need it. They know I’ll give it back,” Grant says.

HR consultant Debbie BenamiRahm, who owns a firm, DBR Career Services in Plantation, Fla., also takes issue with Klein’s perspective. She points to work by Wayne Hochwarter, a Florida State University professor who has studied “badboss effects”.

In his research, Hochwarter found that employees with difficult bosses got back by working more slowly or purposely making errors, using sick time when not ill, and taking longer breaks than those who were not abused.

But even he doesn’t say the boss is all to blame. “If you lined up 15 people who just left their job, you’re going to get 15 dif ferent answers,” he said. At the same time, he has seen a really bad boss destroy people’s lives. “It’s really hard to overcome a bad boss,” Hochwarter says. “Sometimes a boss and an employee are not on the same page. When there’s a disconnect between the employee and superviser most people are going to tell you to get out.

But that’s not always possible, Hochwarter says. It may be a financial hardship to sell a home and try to move to a job elsewhere, for example. If you have a difficult boss, it may help to put some distance between you and that person, which can make the situation more tolerable, he says. “Some are just horrible but you never see them.

The employee also should not hide from a difficult boss. Sit down with the supervisor and take a proactive approach to solve problems. Be positive and do what you can to make the boss look good, Hochwarter says.

Keep in mind that employers cannot afford to lose good employ- ees in today’s job market. Klein says companies should focus on what they can do to stop stifling employees’ motivation. His firm’s research is the basis for the book The Enthusiastic Employee: How Companies Profit by Giving Workers What They Want.

Lack of recognition is another reason why people leave companies, he says. About half of employees say they receive little to no recognition while two-thirds say they get more criticism than praise. When employees are treated with respect, more than 80 per cent say they intend to stay with the company, Klein says. “When workers are not treated with respect, two out of five say, ‘If I can get out of here I will

Courtesy: McClatchy-Tribune (MCT) Information Services