Have you ever noticed that when someone talks about their horrible boss, nearly everyone can relate? It’s because we’ve all experienced the effects of bad managers.
Bad managers come in many different forms and if there’s one thing we don’t need more of, it’s bad managers.
On the flip side, how about when somebody shares their experience they had with a great boss? Feels different, right? Those stories seem to be fewer in number but oh, when you’ve had the good fortune of working for a great leader, you never forget it.
These managers leave lasting impressions – each for very different reasons.
Example: the difference a manager makes to a customer.
I visit a local health foods store each week. It was simply awful shopping there due to the poor customer service. Nobody likes to shop at a place where they’re not appreciated. I finally gave up and stopped shopping there.
A few months ago, I went into that same store because it was convenient and WOW, what a difference! I learned that they recently acquired a great new manager named Ross. Everyone in the store was happy – the energy was magnetic – and it was very nice to feel appreciated again. I even asked for the manager (which is how I learned his name was Ross) and commended him on a fantastic job.
Sadly, I just learned that Ross retired a few weeks ago. Believe it or not, the store is already back to its old habits of poor customer service.
3 out of 4 working Americans say their boss is the most stressful part of their job – 44% say they’ve been verbally, emotionally, or physically abused by a supervisor or boss at some point in their career, and 31% of workers say their boss just doesn’t appreciate them.
Sounds like a big group of whiners, doesn’t it? Actually, employees with subpar management have the right to complain – and this dissatisfaction is costing businesses and the American economy big money.
The cost of bad managers.
Between stress-related health expenses, productivity losses and the costs associated with high employee turnover rates, bad managers cost U.S. companies about $360 billion each year.
- Fake sick days, dawdling because of low-motivation, and purposefully making mistakes out of spite are all direct results of a bad boss – and it costs the economy billions.
- Health is at stake: Anyone who has ever had a bad boss knows they can’t just shake off the effects when they turn in their two weeks’ notice. In fact, it takes people an average of 22 months to restore a healthy stress level range after a bout with a terrible boss.
- People who are on the receiving end of a bad manager are more susceptible to chronic stress, depression, and anxiety. All of these increase the risk of a compromised immune system, colds, strokes, and even heart attacks. Increased sick days with employee visits to the doctor, acupuncturist, massage therapist, and psychologist translate to higher health costs and lost work days.
- A bad boss produces some very real costs in the form of recruitment costs, lost productivity during new-hire training, and in cases that escalate – legal fees. One organization who did the math on real money lost in a year because of one boss’s bad repertoire with employees added up a whopping $160,000 – well above the average managerial salary in many industries.
Bad managers adversely affect workforce investments.
Bad managers negate investments in programs that improve employee retention that can make the company attractive to candidates — excellence rewards, dynamic training programs, improved work environments, employee stock ownership programs, health and other benefits, paid time off and other perks.
Good money spent on great programs unfortunately doesn’t make much difference to the people stuck with bad bosses.
A recent survey found that:
- 84% of respondents have had a bad boss.
- 43% quit the company because of the bad boss.
- 59% would have stayed if given the opportunity to report to someone else.
- 65% of employees say they’d take a new boss over a pay raise.
- 55% percent never reported the bad boss’s behavior to upper management.
What exactly is a “bad boss”?
Bad bosses can be found at every level of management and often display the same characteristics.
The list below will not only help you realize you may be working for a bad boss – it will also allow you to reflect on whether you possess any of these traits yourself.
- Lack of transparency
- Not listening
- Dismiss ideas other than your own
- The lethal combo: Ego and insecurity
- Lack of empathy
- Refusal to learn (good managers never stop learning)
- Poor communication and lack of guidance
- Lack of vision and strategy
- Assigning blame
- Possess poor people skills
- Failure to recognize contributions and reward good work
Good managers lead employees to increase revenue.
There’s a strong correlation between employee engagement, customer satisfaction, and revenue.
Just one example of this correlation was published more than 20 years ago, “The Employee-Customer-Profit Chain”. This was a straightforward program based on the belief that employee behavior affected customer behavior, which in turn affected company financial performance.
The results? When employee satisfaction improved by 5%, customer satisfaction improved by 1.3%, which led to a .05% improvement in revenue. That might not sound like a big deal, but for a $50 billion retailer it amounts to an extra $250 million in sales revenue.
Many large retailers have replicated the study and the results held true for all of them:
Effective leaders led to satisfied employees, which led to satisfied customers, which led to a direct and measurable increase in sales revenue.
Ross (the manager I spoke of earlier) was an effective leader. His satisfied employees allowed me to be a satisfied customer, which brought me back to the store week after week.
Investing in leadership development pays off. It’s a prerequisite to getting the most out of your other investments in workplace effectiveness and the most from your team.
What can you do today to be a better boss?