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Reflections on the Boss Study

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FSU Team Finds “Abuse”

 

            Recently reported research led by a business school professor at Florida State University indicates that employers worried about the problem employee can start with their own managers. The study concluded that “abusive relationships” between dishonest or manipulative supervisors and their reports were bad for business. The discovery results came from over 700 respondents in a mail survey to workers in the service and manufacturing industries.

            Even if the study has flaws in its methodology (e.g., How and what were the questions posed? How were those polled selected?), it again presents the issues of domination, backstabbing, and other negative traits of some supervisors. But the study says nothing about bullying complaints. Shortcomings reported: 39% said their boss failed to keep promises, and almost as many complained they were not given credit when it was due, and 31% complained they got the “silent treatment.”

            Other shortcomings: bad mouthing (27%), privacy invasion (24%), and buck-passing (23%).

            Some of these shortcomings are vague, e.g. invading a subordinate’s privacy and failing to keep promises. But supervisors cannot fail the “be an adult” test in any case. In other words, bosses should keep (appropriate) promises, should give credit when deserved, should communicate like an adult and not ignore a subordinate as punishment, and so on.

            Of equal importance are those other traits that make for problem managers: inability to confront problem performers, playing favorites, and other inconsistent treatment of employees, bullying, and treating a department like a fiefdom.

 

1/11/07