By Owen Phelps, Ph.D.
Director, Yeshua Institute

Writing for Entrepreneur, Carol Tice identifies five types of bosses who drive people crazy — and also drive them out the door, creating a costly mix of high turnover and low productivity.

Of course, the situation is hardly as toxic as the one depicted in the new movie Horrible Bosses, where three people set out to kill their bosses. But the movie has put the spotlight on that proverbial 800 pound gorilla in way too many organizations.

Tice cites a recent survey of more than 400 workers that found 46% of them had worked for what they considered an "unreasonable manager." Of that group, 11% quit before they even had lined up another job and 27% left as soon as they found another place to land. We can only guess how much time those who didn't immediately quit spent looking for a new job instead of trying to excel at the one they already had.

Although 35% said they stayed on and tried to deal with the situation, another 24% said they stayed on and just "suffered through the torment" — hardly a formula for building a highly motivated, engaged and productive work team.

What kind of bosses drove nearly half of all the workers surveyed out the door or to serious distraction from the organization's focus. The survey found five common types:

  1. Micromanager — these are people who just can't delegate, probably because they aren't organized enough to do it or they can't trust others. Remember, people who don't trust are seldom trusted. Repeat after me: There are as many right ways to do a job as there are skilled people to do it.
  2. Poor communicator — one of the great laws of the universe is "you cannot not communicate." Act like a sphinx and people will think you're giving them "the silent treatment." When you're not clear and not willing to repeat yourself (without harping), people waste a lot of time and focus trying to guess what you want. They'll also waste a lot more time confessing your sins around the water cooler.
  3. Bully — if you're easily frustrated, if you lose your cool, if you yell a lot and you insist "it's my way or the highway," don't be surprised when your employees head for the highway or hide under their desks, afraid to take any risks or initiative. Men, especially large men who get away with being physically dominant while growing up, can more easily fall prey to this temptation. Short term it works. Long term it costs dearly.
  4. Saboteur — these are the people who look in the mirror any time there's any credit to be taken, and look out the window — or down the row of cubicles — whenever there's blame to be taken. If you want all the credit and the cash, long-term you'll likely accumulate neither. These kind of bosses will especially drive away the most competent newcomers who are at the bottom of the wage scale but are will to contribute significantly for a little recognition and the sense that they are building a reputation for competence.
  5. Mixed nuts — these are the "weather vanes" in an organization. They change direction, focus and even their temperament from one moment to the next. Maybe it's an impulse control problem. Many these bosses are narcissistic. Whatever the cause, it undermines organizational performance. Bosses who want their employees to trust them have to be trustworthy — and a big part of that is being emotionally stable. It's appropriate — and perhaps necessary — to express greater emotional intensity during a crisis. But a workplace environment can't consist of crisis upon crisis for very long before burn-out starts to take a tool. Of course, all of us experience mood changes, and they can be a huge positive as we celebrate successes. But we can't let our darker moods become monsters on a rampage in the workplace.

S3 Leaders who are focused on trying to lead like Jesus will experience all the temptations any other leader faces. But they will have more and better ways to cope with the challenges every leader faces in the workplace.

What kind of boss are you — or will you become some day?

Copyright © 2011 Yeshua Catholic International Leadership Institute, 208 E. North St., Durand, IL 61024. Any part of this newsletter may be reproduced so long as there is full attribution, our web site is listed, and any electronic reproduction includes a link to our site:

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