In this HR Blast, we focus on the impacts of bad ‘bosses’ and how to make sure poor managers aren’t affecting the bottom line in your organisation.
Why is this important?
We are operating in an incredibly tight labour market. Pretty much everyone who wants a job, has a job, so employees can be pickier than ever about who they choose to work for. The race is on for top talent. It’s never been more critical to retain the employees who add value to your business and attract the most motivated, engaged and high-performing people to your organisation. And to do this you need managers who respect, value and nurture their staff. The managers (and organisations) that haven’t yet switched on to this are the ones who have the potential to damage the bottom line.
The impact of bad bosses
If you don’t understand the impact of bad bosses, you’re missing a trick as we have been forewarned with the well-used adage ‘People don’t leave companies, they leave managers.’
We hear time and time again of people leaving companies because they don’t get on with/hate/are scared of/do not feel valued by, their boss. Of course, people leave for other reasons, such as career progression or a pay rise, but if someone has a great manager they will stay with them for years, even if it’s not always the best thing for their career. Having a great manager means you come into work happy, looking forward to the day ahead and knowing you have a respectful and transparent relationship with someone who will coach you when you need to improve and praise you when you get it right.
A bad manager on the other hand, who is responsible for communicating culture and values through their words and behaviour can:
- Demotivate your employees, thereby reducing productivity and potentially damaging customer service levels, quality of output etc.
- Destroy morale, and disengage employees so much they start thinking about leaving
- Create resentment and drive teams apart, especially where the manager has their own agenda i.e. it’s a power play, they’re looking for promotion etc.
- Increase staff turnover, so that person after person leaves, creating all sorts of operational headaches
- Cause stress, leading to sickness absence from work, and sometimes protracted long-term Employee Relations cases that take hours of time to resolve
- Result in (multiple) grievances raised against them for bullying or harassment, which can take many hours to resolve and lead to costly settlements or tribunals as well as a small fortune in legal fees
- And in the worst cases it is also not unusual that at Jaluch we come across employee suicides and other self harm that can be directly linked to the behaviour of their manager. Some managers truly ought to hang their heads in shame at their abuse of power and position.
Losing staff always has an impact on the organisation in terms of time and money, but losing good people can have a massive impact…When did you last count up the cost of lost business, disgruntled customers, poor handover etc. caused by managers being careless of their staff. Rehiring alone costs between £6,000 – 8,000 on average, taking the selection process, induction and training into account. And let’s not forget that it takes between 3 – 6 months for a new starter to reach full capability, so for that period they’re not operating at the level the previous staff member was.
Types of bad bosses
Very few bad bosses are actually bad people, and not many people come to work every day wanting to upset or demotivate their team. Some people we speak to during grievance investigations, training or one to one coaching sessions are genuinely horrified at the way others see them, and then express a genuine desire to change. On the other hand, there are those who can’t see what all the fuss is about and as far as they’re concerned, it’s their way or the highway! Let’s take a look at a few of the ‘types’ we come across at Jaluch:
Bad Day Boss
This boss is emotionally driven, instinctive in their reactions and when they’re having a bad day they take it out on everyone around them. They’ll flap, snap, raise their voices or shout and generally make unreasonable demands with no thought for the impact on the people around them. While they know it’s not personal, and it’s all about the way they’re feeling in that particular moment, their team members will feel unbalanced and fearful, and may go home frustrated and fed up with the emotional ups and downs. Not good!
This boss is oblivious to what’s going on in their teams and, unless their oblivion is caused by stress and overload, probably won’t have some of the ‘soft skills’ required to be a great leader i.e. effective listening, questioning skills, constructive feedback etc. This may be less about them as a manager, and much more about them as a person – and their self-awareness. These types of bosses may have low emotional intelligence and genuinely might not know how to empathise with or support their teams. They can be poor communicators and might not pick up on the verbal or physical cues of the people around them, so they’re not able to spot the problems brewing and resolve them quickly.
Many people are promoted because of their technical ability rather than because they have people management skills/experience. Therefore, they’re great with customers or internal stakeholders and brilliant at delivering results, but they have no understanding of what effective leadership and management looks like. This often means they over manage (micro manage) or don’t manage at all (delegate and dump). They might even mimic what they have seen other managers do or what they have seen ‘managers’ do in films. Not ideal! Their staff often lack focus or guidance. Often under performers are left unmanaged and this can have a knock-on effect to the whole team who then lose confidence in the manager. Equally those away from work (maternity and long-term sickness) can experience disengagement and demotivation through the lack of communication and appropriate management.
This can be the most challenging type of boss to deal with. They can be outspoken/bolshie, controlling and status-driven in an effort to prove themselves, or quiet and passive with little capacity to energise and engage their teams. They might also be new to the organisation and still finding their feet, or even very experienced managers who’ve been burnt by previous situations i.e. grievance raised against them, a difficult employee with a poor outcome etc. Insecurity amongst managers can also stem from a senior leadership team that has a tendency to bully, blame and find fault when things don’t go right. The consequences of the ‘insecure’ manager can be wide ranging including bullying, high turnover, high sickness, staff disengagement, inadequate communication, badly managed staff.
So, what can you do about all this?
Well, put simply, if you think you have ‘bad’ managers in your organisation, the first step involves identifying what’s going wrong. Consider:
- Do their actions in any way appear to ‘mimic’ those of the senior leadership team or are they acting contrary to the expected culture?
- Are they over managing, are they under managing?
- Are they over assertive (aggressive), are they under assertive?
- What does their team say about them, either through 360 feedback, staff surveys, during appraisals/review or informal conversation?
- Are there any widely-known issues in the team that they’ve failed to manage?
- What complaints have been received about them?
- What was the nature of these, what was the outcome and how did they deal with this?
- Is there high or low turnover in their team?
- What are their team results – are they high performers?
- What’s the sickness absence for their team? How does this compare to the rest of the company/other departments etc.
- What training or support have they had as managers and does their behaviour reflect the training they received?
The second step involves sitting down and speaking with them about your observations of their management style, the reasons why this is your view (evidence based), highlighting what needs to change for the good of the organisation and their teams, and for their own development, and discussing how this change might happen (see step three).
The third step is identifying the most relevant tools to help them become a better ‘boss’. This will depend on the type of manager they are currently, whether they accept that change needs to happen, how engaged they are in the process and what kind of learners they are. Some of the numerous options include:
- 1:1 Coaching, including soft skills i.e. active listening, constructive feedback
- Finding a mentor, who is known as being a great manager/leader
- Shadowing those who have high performing teams, to learn how they do what they do
- Training, including employment law/ER, soft skills, anger management (!)
- Management Development Programme
- Psychometric testing, to understand themselves and others
- Emotional Intelligence assessment, to become more self-aware
- Transactional Analysis, to better understand how communication can create conflict
- Engaging with an HR professional, who can role model best practice employee relations
- Peer review and support
A word of warning – the above sets out an initial informal approach to moving this forward, and some people will gladly take up the challenge, while others will fight you every step of the way. Be prepared to use a formal procedure, if it’s in the organisation’s interest to manage a bad manager out!
Want to know more about how we can help you upskill and support your managers in practical terms? We offer the following:
- 60% of Jaluch’s revenue comes from supporting hundreds of businesses with their day to day employment law and employee relations challenges: disciplinaries, grievances, redundancies, TUPE, long term sickness, Employment Tribunal claims etc. We pride ourselves on being pragmatic and commercial in the approach we take.
- 40% of our revenue comes from the training and coaching we deliver: diversity and inclusion, unconscious bias, coaching skills for managers, finance for non financial managers, managing discipline and poor performance, essential employment law for managers etc
- If you’re looking for a cost-effective HR solution, Docs Wizard provides template employment contracts, letters, policies, forms to edit yourselves.
With Jaluch, you can avoid the inflexibility of a service contract as we have a pay-as-you-go option which can be very quickly set up so there is no delay in us giving you the support you need. Why wait? If you would like to discuss any of the above further, then please don’t hesitate to call a HR Consultant on 01425 479888 today.