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Got a Bad Boss? You're Not Alone

Matt Langdon points us to a new Florida State University study that confirms that when people leave their organizations, they're usually leaving their bosses. FSU researchers surveyed over 700 workers about how their bosses treat them, and the results are discouraging. For instance, nearly one in four managers blame someone else for their own mistakes, either to cover up their blunders or to avoid embarrassment. What's more, 39 percent of bosses fail to keep the promises they make.

Other abusive behaviors highlighted by the survey include: failing to give credit when it's due (37 percent), giving employees the "silent treatment" (31 percent), making negative comments about workers to other employees (27 percent), and invading employee privacy (24 percent).

The research substantiates a link between poor leadership and low . Employees with bad bosses experienced greater exhaustion, workplace tension, nervousness, and depression. Employees "were less likely to take on additional tasks, such as working longer or on weekends, and were generally less satisfied with their job," said Wayne Hochwarter, associate professor of management in the College of Business at FSU, who worked on the study with doctoral students Paul Harvey and Jason Stoner.

Those leaders who think workers are only in it for the money should think again. "Employees were more likely to leave if involved in an abusive relationship than if dissatisfied with pay," said Hochwarter.

As the FSU study indicates, bad bosses are everywhere and affect everyone. Survey participants included men and women of all ages and races, workers in service industries as well as manufacturing, and employees from large and small companies. Hochwarter has advice for people with lousy bosses. First, he tells abused workers to remain optimistic, "because few subordinate-supervisor relationships last forever." He also encourages employees to report a supervisor's threatening, harassing, or discriminating behavior. "Others know who the are at work. They likely have a history of mistreating others." And finally, he tells employees to "stay visible at work. Hiding can be detrimental to your career, especially when it keeps others in the company from noticing your talent and contributions."
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