What to do About Bad Bosses

Posted on September 4, 2012.

There are a lot of bad bosses out there.  Just ask Psychologist, Robert Hogan. At a recent American Psychologist Association conference, he stated, "seventy-five percent of working adults say the worst aspect of their job — the most stressful aspect of their job — is their immediate boss." 

That’s a big number.  Bad bosses breed disengagement, which in turn breeds lower productivity and turnover. Both of these outcomes are costly to any business. So why isn’t anyone doing anything about the bad boss situation? Like everything else, its starts at the top.

According to Forbes, Randy Fishkin, President of SEOmoz, recently published his performance review for the entire company to see.  This is both brave and effective. Fishkin is encouraging transparency and by doing so, holds himself to a high standard.  The article doesn’t specify, but if he were to require all his bosses to publish their reviews or 360 feedbacks, would the bad bosses be more encouraged to improve?

One of the other major problems with the getting rid of bad bosses is that most companies have a culture of never going over someone’s head. Years ago, I worked with a woman who did just that and she was laid off.  So in addition to creating transparency around performance reviews, companies need to create the ability for people to voice their concerns.  If you don’t have a 360-feedback process (and they can be only somewhat effective), then create a mechanism where employees review the boss instead of just the other way around.  Send out simple Start-Stop-Continue forms and ask everyone to complete it anonymously. It should help you gauge the level of trust and respect people have in the boss.

CEOs, Presidents and owners need to be more involved in how bosses are selected and then how well they are performing afterwards. Start by creating your own transparency and then requiring others to do the same.