People don’t leave bad jobs; they leave devil bosses! I know it’s a well-worn phrase, but one that has a huge element of truth to it. A survey carried out at the tail-end of last year revealed that a staggering 75% of workers who left their place of employment did so because of an issue with the management rather than because of the position itself – beating out ‘lack of career growth’ and even ‘low pay’ in a list of top reasons that employees threw in the towel.
So, what exactly is it that makes a ‘bad boss’? What is it about a manager or supervisor that makes them so terrible to work for that someone will quit a job they otherwise like, just to get away from them? If you’ve seen the film ‘Horrible Bosses’ you might think you have some idea, but the truth is, it’s not the extreme behaviour you might be imagining. If you yourself are someone’s boss, it could in fact be behaviour you’re engaging in that you don’t even realise is causing your employees an issue – probably even without thought or intent.
The main reasons former employees give for considering someone a ‘bad boss’ is fairly consistent across all industries – probably even yours – and includes:
1. Devil Bosses who give too much or not enough feedback!
It might not sound like a big deal, but apparently when it comes to giving feedback to your employees, the balance has to be just right.
The comments surrounding ‘too much’ feedback reveals that it’s the micromanaging that does people’s heads in. If you’ve got a boss who won’t just bugger off and let you get on with it, and has to involve themselves in every aspect of what you’re doing, you’ll eventually feel unmotivated, untrusted and basically useless. This takes its toll on employees eventually and they’ll leave for pastures new.
On the flip side, a boss who never let’s you know how you’re doing, doesn’t give praise or constructive critique just comes off as unbothered and uncaring. People like to know that they’re doing a good job, it motivates and drives us.
Employees who feel forgotten about, or that they’re just blindly going about their work with absolutely no idea if they’re doing a good job or not will start to feel unmotivated and unproductive; if your boss doesn’t give a shit, why should you? Much better to go somewhere where you’ll be appreciated.
2. Devil Bosses who don’t invest in their employees!
‘Not showing concern for my career and professional development’ was listed as one of the top 10 traits of a bad boss, and it’s not really surprising that workers will eventually find this frustrating to the point of quitting.
If you’re in full-time employment you’ll spend roughly a quarter of your life at work. I’m not just telling you this to depress you – I’m saying it because it’s the reason that, for a lot of people, career progression is often their only reason for turning up day in, day out. Few of us are working for the fun of it.
Bosses who aren’t quenching their employees’ thirst for industry knowledge by bringing in expert trainers or allowing employees to attend conferences or seminars during work hours, for example, could find themselves with positions to fill again in the long run. Again, if your boss isn’t nurturing and supportive of your career, you’re better off finding one who is.
3. Devil Bosses who aren’t clear about their expectations!
If you have a boss who hasn’t set clear expectations, you probably feel you’ve been set up to fail, and the fear of failure in employees eventually leads to a high turnover rate of staff. This is because, put simply, feeling like you’ve failed makes you unhappy, and no one wants to be miserable in a place they have to come to everyday.
Bosses who give a quick overview of responsibilities rather than helping their employees to set goals and talk regularly about their expectations and review employee progress, are among those described as ‘bad’.
Not knowing where you stand makes you feel unmotivated and ‘lost’, so it’s no wonder that employees who have no clue what their bosses expect of them end up walking. Wouldn’t you?
4. Devil Bosses who have favourites or family members!
Oh we’ve all been there haven’t we?!
There’s nothing worse than working for someone who has blatant favourites among their team – those individuals who don’t seem to be pulled up on the same things everyone else is and receive other preferential treatment. The worst bosses are the ones who don’t even attempt to disguise their favouritism, but either way – I can guarantee you that it gets employees’ backs up.
Bosses need to understand that playing favourites means playing with fire and that creating an atmosphere of inclusivity is key to getting your employees to stick around. If the same person is being recognised and celebrated for their work over and over again, it won’t go unnoticed, and those who feel unappreciated will start dropping like flies.
A special shout-out goes to those who employ a family member as well as ‘strangers’. Those ‘strangers’ will just be waiting to pounce on even the slightest hint of favouritism, making the work environment unpleasant for the whole team. The bosses son/daughter that can do no wrong or has their mum or dad wrapped around their little finger. This sends a really bad message to all of the other employees and will result in good staff leaving!
5. Devil Bosses who are insensitive and unsympathetic!
I’m not suggesting that bosses should let people take the piss when it comes to calling in sick or taking personal days, but also, don’t be an arsehole. When people talk about their ‘bad boss’ this is a running theme that comes up time and time again.
The truth is, if your employee has children there will be days when having to take some time off or being late is unavoidable. It’s just a fact.
The grief that follows a bereavement or a relationship break up is a real and personal experience – some might find work a welcome distraction, others will need some time off to gather themselves and their thoughts, and a sympathetic and supportive boss is one who accommodates that.
People’s mental health is important – we’re not robots – and in a world that is now more understanding of just how impactful it is, employees are willing to walk away from a boss (and therefore a job) that isn’t willing to reasonably accommodate that fact.
If you’re someone’s boss, be understanding of their situation. People need their jobs, obviously, but they won’t stay in one at the expense of their mental and physical wellbeing.
6. Devil Bosses who don’t listen!
Ever been in a position where you can spot a flaw in what you’ve been asked to do at work, or have thought of a way to speed up or improve the process?
Picture the scene; you excitedly go to your boss with your killer idea, certain you’ll be applauded – and maybe even rewarded – for your time (and therefore money) saving idea.
But your boss dismisses it; they want things done their way.
Fewer things are more frustrating than not being listened to – especially if you end up in a situation where your idea is implemented several weeks later and someone else (normally the aforementioned boss) takes the credit.
To be honest, I’d quit as well.
If you’re a business owner and have employees, think about the ones who have quit. Could you be guilty of any of these things?
It’s tricky isn’t it, when you’re trying to grow a business, keep on top of your cash flow and thrive in a competitive industry? It’s no wonder really that sometimes considering whether or not you’re a good boss to work for can fall by the wayside.
So consider this your gentle reminder; if your workforce is turning over at a rate of knots, or you’re losing quality managers, maybe it isn’t that you’re not paying enough, or that “people just don’t want to work any more”….