Good Boss, Bad Boss. Which Are You?
By PAUL B. BROWN
Published: January 8, 2008
The New York Times
Maybe it is not them. If employee turnover and absenteeism within the company are too high, and productivity and morale too low, the person in charge may be the one at fault.
To find out how good — or bad — a boss you are, the National Federation of Independent Business, a small business advocacy group, suggests asking yourself these questions:
1. Have you ever publicly criticized an employee?
2. Do you take credit for your employees’ work?
3. Do your employees fear you?
4. Do you expect employees to do what you tell them without question?
5. Do you believe employees should know what to do without you telling them or providing guidelines?
6. Are you a yeller?
7. Do you demean employees as a form of punishment?
8. Do you play favorites?
9. Do you hate delegating?
10. Do you check everyone’s work?
According to the answer key, the more “yes” answers, the greater the likelihood you are a bad boss.
A SHORT CHECKLIST
Given that Trevor Gay wrote a book called “Simplicity Is the Key” — published in Britain by Kingsham Press in 2004 — it is not surprising that he has come up with a basic list of the differences between good and bad bosses.
In his 35 years of work (in the health care industry), Mr. Gay said he discovered that his best bosses had these attributes:
-Knew what they were talking about
-Let me get on with things
-Were always there when I needed help
-Usually said, ‘Yes, try it.’
His worst bosses, he said, had these deficiencies:
-Never seemed to be around when I needed them
-Always asked me to justify what I wanted to do
-Always wanted to know what I was doing
-Often said ‘no, we can’t do that’
-Gave the impression of being distrustful
-Didn’t smile much
-Talked about themselves a lot.
HOW TO BE A BAD BOSS
Paul Lemberg, an executive coach, has compiled a list of ways weak bosses can hinder an employee’s performance.
His advice to those bosses is to "stop immediately," if they are doing any of the following:
-You don't give employees a clear and compelling company direction. When people align themselves with the company’s goals, they are free to invent, to improvise, to innovate, to inspire each other.
-You say important things only once. If the message is important, it is worth repeating.
-You don’t hold employees accountable.
-You concentrate on trying to improve employees’ shortcomings. “Bad bosses waste too much energy on employee makeovers. Don’t worry about weaknesses — instead, figure out what employees are really good at and train them to be brilliant.”
TAKE THE QUIZ
Working America, which is affiliated with the A.F.L.-C.I.O., writes on its Web site that it works “against wrong-headed priorities favoring the rich and corporate special interests over America’s well-being.”
That apparently does not keep them from having a sense of humor.
The organization has created a 10-question quiz to help employees figure how bad their boss is.
The quiz presents a situation and then asks if it sounds “like something your boss would do.”
For example, “someone in your family has died unexpectedly,” it says. “You are devastated, but feel touched when your normally cheap boss sends flowers to the funeral. The next month you find out your boss has taken the money for flowers out of your paycheck.”
The Web site says questions like this one are based on real events.
Writing in Inc., Leigh Buchanan offers several signs to bosses that their employees probably hate them. These are our two favorites:
“You never see people walk by. Employees would rather circumnavigate the entire office to get to the coffee machine or bathroom than take the shortcut past your door and risk being invited in.”
Employees do not volunteer for the boss’s pet projects. It could be because the idea is bad, and they are afraid to say that. Or the idea may be good, but they are petrified of what will happen if they let the boss down. Or since it is the boss’s pet project, he will probably work on it as well. “Which means more time spent ...gulp ...with you.”
Nothing left to add. Glad to notice that the strengths-based approach is appearing in the mainstream press.