Who hasn’t experienced the thrill of getting a new job? Beating out the competition to win over the corporate hiring team is quite an accomplishment in and of itself. But what happens when a dream job turns into a nightmare – or daymare – due to a bad manager?
Only the most fortunate among us have never suffered the dismal life under a person incapable of leading, much less inspiring, the workforce. Such managers are often prime examples of the Peter Principle (developed by Laurence J. Peter) which states that people in a hierarchy tend to rise to their “level of incompetence” and stay there.
Corporations tend to promote bad managers to positions they can’t perform with no easy provision to demote them back to their proper functional level. Pity the poor manager who has been entrusted with work that is too hard to handle. Such a person spends their workdays scrambling to figure things out, making unreasonable demands, and sniping at the underlings.
A Gallup poll published in January 2018 concluded that, among the more than one million employed U.S. workers who responded, the #1 reason people quit their jobs is a bad boss or immediate supervisor and that 75 percent of workers who separated from their jobs voluntarily (rather than being laid off or terminated – fired) did so because of a manager rather than the position’s duties.
A survey of 1,000 American employees reported that:
- Three out of four employees report that their boss is the “worst and most stressful part of their job”
- 65 percent of respondents said they would “take a new boss over a pay raise”
- It takes 22 months for an employee to shake off the stress and anxiety a bad boss causes
- Workers that have poor relationships with bosses are 30 percent more likely to suffer coronary heart disease
The Gallop researchers were surprised and a bit disturbed by one finding:
“Highly talented employees who are not engaged were among those who had the highest turnover in each organization – on par with low talent, disengaged employees.”
Managers who failed to engage with their best and worst subordinates had the biggest failure rate for employee retention.
This is important to upper management since companies pay big money to hire new staff members. Glassdoor and the Society for Human Resource Management peg the cost to onboard a new hire at around $4,000.
Research by Hogan Assessments, published in their 2014 Thought Leadership Yearbook, revealed the bleak forecast for retaining employees of all ages:
“A survey by Future Workplace showed that 91% of Millennials expected to stay at a job for fewer than three years, and, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average worker stays at his or her job for just 4.4 years.”
So why do people quit their jobs after going to the trouble of beating out all the other candidates? For many, it is to preserve their physical and mental health.
Employees who would just as soon be productive are often thwarted by a bad manager’s extremely poor organization skills. Chaotic days where meetings are rescheduled or canceled at the last minute are the norm. Poor communication cripples team members who don’t get complete and timely notifications of their tasks and goals.
Following a bad leader is extremely demoralizing and, at times, very difficult for a good employee. Following are some top reasons why workers said they quit their positions:
- No growth or development. Employees with months – even years of experience – in the job they were originally hired to do often become frustrated by the boring sameness of their daily duties. Other companies which offer training programs begin to look a lot more appealing.
- Passed over for promotion. Is there anything more galling than getting the news that someone genuinely less qualified than you got that next-level position you thought was a slam-dunk? Even if someone of equal talent gets tapped, after the second or third time this happens, only a sainted employee could sit idly by rather than seek better opportunity elsewhere.
- No managerial feedback. Forget praise for a job well done – bad managers won’t give their team the time of day as everybody struggles to make up for the leader’s blundering. Working in a critical vacuum is very stressful for all but the hardiest die-hards.
- Poor leadership. Bad managers don’t inspire their teams to greatness: they either cower in fear of being found out or lash a harsh tongue full of negative criticism, often after failing to explain tasks, objectives, and expectations. Lacking clear vision and direction, a bad manager makes one poor decision after another, further splintering the workgroup. Great leaders lead by example; bad managers never studied how to become a great leader.
- No performance goals. Bad managers neglect to foster employee engagement by helping to set performance goals with performance metrics to gauge successful worker progress. Accountable performance goals lead to fair treatment for all team members who are held to the same standards. Weak links in the productivity chain can be identified without personal prejudice for remedial action and top producers can be duly acknowledged for doing a job “above and beyond.”
If you manage people who work under you, take a moment to evaluate your own performance and the value you add to your company. Are you the churn-and-burn type of leader or the gain-and-retain supportive leader you want in your own boss?