Monday, 23 March 2009

You Just May Be a Poor Boss If...

In The Devil Wears Prada, Meryl Streep plays an editor. Fashion industry insiders have stated that the fear inspiring, scary, capricious manager (apparently, her character is based on a real boss!) played by Streep, is on target. In fact, the mean spirited actions of such bosses can be seen by some in the fashion and entertainment world as a badge of honor!

But can these bosses get results? My opinion is that a managerial jerk can never achieve good, sustainable results. One of the reasons why is discretionary effort. Discretionary effort is what makes people work overtime, stay late on their own time, create and innovate. One of the more disheartening results of poor bosses is the effect they can have on the discretionary effort of good employees. I've seen this effort, which can really boost an area, get smothered by poor bosses. People may work for a tyrant but they'll seldom give him everything they have.

Robert Sutton, an organizational psychologist, has a philosophy on bosses who are jerks. He says they are a tremendous drain on society and that the costs of retaining these bosses outweigh any benefits. They waste time and cause possible psychological abuse and even mental damage.
The other facet of the boss as jerk syndrome is that they may be unaware of the effect of their actions. So here is a short list of some signs that your managing skills may need some sharpening: You just might be a poor boss when-

- You claim an open door policy and wonder why no one comes through that door.

- Your employee has to ask you why her check increased instead of you telling her prior to payday that you gave her a raise.

- You feel sorry for the Dabney Coleman character in the movie "9 to 5"

- The turnover percentage in your area is the same as the winning percentage of the White Sox.

- Your leadership role models are Machiavelli, General Patton and Atilla the Hun.

- You find a copy of A Survival Guide for Working With Bad Bosses: Dealing With Bullies, Idiots,
Back-stabbers, And Other Managers from Hell by Gini Graham Scott on an employee's desk.

- You have a budget of 30k to spend on employee bonuses and never use it.

- You think it's good management to come in under the paltry 3.5% budget available for salary increases.

- You think that losing your temper is an indication of management strength.

Someone asked me why there appeared to be so many poor bosses. After all, in addition to real life horror stories, there are several movies and books that deal with bosses from hell.
Although I feared this may be a cliche my response was that the reason there are so many jerks as managers is that poor bosses don't work at being good bosses. Poor bosses become better by working at it. Managing simply by instinct or personality traits alone dooms bosses to the role of jerk.

If a poor manager desires improvement, attention needs to be paid to expanding his/her management skills. This means the aware manager reads books, goes to classes and seminars and even seeks out speakers about the craft. Then it's applying those lessons learned in the workplace. That's what can prevent a boss from being a jerk and turn a jerk into a manager worth holding the position.

Following are some indicators that your managerial style is working: You just may be a good manager when-

- Your area improves productivity by 20% and the people think you had nothing to do with it.

- You get invited to area social functions and they really want you to go.

- You like to manage by walking around your area. When you miss a day someone asks you where you were.

- You listen when someone needs to vent to you.

- You get Christmas cards from your employees.

- People leave your department because they get promoted.

- Potential employees apply to work in your area.

- Your employees tell you you're always fair.

Finally, you realize that you became a better manager the day you kept quiet and began listening.

Guest writer Steve Wyrostek is an internet copywriter covering websites to articles to white papers. All writing includes keyword research/placement, rewrites and proofreading.

No comments:

Post a Comment