to do About Problem Supervisors
have ever quit a job because you didn't get along with
your boss, you are not alone. A Gallup Poll of over
a million employees found that how long workers stay
at companies and how productive they are is determined
by their relationship with their immediate supervisor.
While "bad bosses" make
for good Dilbert cartoons, the reality is no laughing
matter for most businesses. The consequences of poor management
can seriously damage a company's bottom line. Replacing
even one employee can cost six months or more of that
employee's salary when all costs are taken into account.
On top of recruitment
expenses, such as newspaper advertising, losing an employee
costs a company time spent by other staff interviewing,
training, and doing the work of the former employee
until a replacement is found. It can also result inlower
morale and productivity as employees discuss the situation
around the water cooler. In some cases it can result
in lost business when customer service or product
delivery is disrupted.
Employees who remain
with a poor supervisor rarely go the extra mile for
their employer. Gallup found poorly managed workgroups
are an average of 50% less productive and 44% less profitable
than well managed groups.
If your organization
has a problem with "bad bosses" the good news is that
most supervisors and managers really want to do a good
job. In most cases, if a boss isn't doing a good job
it is because they don't know how.
Many supervisors have
been promoted to a leadership position because of their
technical skills rather than an ability to manage people.
Being promoted to supervisor is often seen as a reward
for someone who has done well on the manufacturing floor,
in administrative support, or in the field.
Senior management may
think: "Sam Supervisor did a great job on the front
line. Sam should be able to show a team how it's done."
However, being a good worker doesn't necessarily mean
someone will automatically know how to get good results
For some people, being
promoted to supervisor can actually be a fearful experience.
A new supervisor may fear losing control, losing face,
and ultimately losing their job. The new supervisor
deals with these fears by using tactics they think will
Not knowing any better,
they may be overly controlling. Or they may try so hard
to avoid being controlling they don't clearly communicate
what's expected. They may be demanding and critical,
thinking they need to act that way to get things done.
Or they may be so afraid of conflict or the appearance
of favoritism they avoid giving employees any feedback
Any of these behaviors
can result in dissatisfied employees, higher turnover,
and lost productivity. Fortunately, there are steps
you can take to deal with bad management no matter where
you are in the organization:
you have a problem boss
Recognize that your
boss's behavior is probably due to ignorance
rather than malice. If you can see your supervisor as
someone who is working with limited knowledge about
how to manage, it may be easier to let their behavior
roll off your back.
For as long as you choose
to stay with your employer and work with your boss,
do what you can to support him or her. You will
be seen as a team player and may be able to advance
in the organization with or without your boss. As a
bonus, many employees who start supporting a boss rather
than rebelling find the boss's behavior improves.
Stand up for yourself.
Supporting your boss is not the same as being a doormat.
Don't tolerate being yelled at or otherwise treated
badly. If your boss does something you find unacceptable,
say so as directly and unemotionally as possible. Being
assertive can often put a stop to unacceptable behavior.
Some bosses have no idea how they have been treating
someone until that person speaks up.
you think your own management skills could be better
Spend time observing
what successful managers in your organization do differently
from other managers. Notice in particular the way successful
managers communicate with the people who report
You will probably notice
that good managers communicate expectations clearly
without micromanaging. They tell employees the
results they expect, but give them some freedom as to
how they achieve those results. They notice what employees
do right, and give them immediate recognition for doing
a good job.
Chances are you will
find managers in your organization who are doing things
right. Consider asking one of those successful managers
to mentor you. A mentor meets with you at scheduled
times to discuss your challenges and offer advice.
Use every opportunity
to develop your management skills. Take advantage of
company sponsored management training programs or take
classes on your own. You can also find some excellent
advice in books ranging from Dale Carnegie's classic
How to Win Friends and Influence People to Marcus
Buckingham and Curt Coffman's First, Break All The
Rules: What the World's Greatest Managers Do Differently.
companies can do
Senior management can
serve as role models of the behavior expected
of supervisors, including setting clear expectations
and giving plenty of positive feedback. When it comes
to giving feedback and rewards, senior management can
recognize supervisors who reduce turnover while maintaining
a system of 360 degree feedback to replace the
traditional system of performance reviews. With 360
degree feedback, a supervisor's performance can be evaluated,
and areas for improvement identified, by employees who
report to that supervisor as well as the supervisor's
manager and peers.
Companies can also provide
formal and informal opportunities for supervisors to
learn how to be better managers. Effective management
techniques can be shared and learned through mentoring
as well as management
With proper feedback,
training and support, a company can go a long way to
making poor management a thing of the past.
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