People quit bosses, not organizations

Florida State University’s College of Business just published an interesting survey of some 700 people working in a variety of jobs, asking them about their bosses. The results:

1) two of five bosses don’t keep their word

2) more than a fourth bad mouth their employees to co-workers

Others said their supervisors took credit for work done by the employee, blamed others for mistakes made by the supervisor or gave the employee the ‘silent treatment’ at some time or another during the past year.

The survey confirms what I’ve always believed: people quit because of bad bosses, not bad organizations.

When I think of bad bosses in my career, I recall:

**one who had selective memory and simply ‘could not recall’ specific promises made to me and others

**one who trashed literally every employee in the firm that I had just joined, but told me it was my problem to either ‘fix them or fire them.’ Talk about a rude welcoming.

**one who demonstrated his displeasure with my writing by setting a newsletter on fire with his cigarette lighter (talk about seeing one’s career going up in smoke)

**one who screamed and yelled at me in the hallways right in front of co-workers (that was fun)

**another one who routinely dropped assignments on my desk with impossible deadlines and little or no direction

**still another who pulled together the senior management team and told us we should be ashamed that none of us possessed an Ivy League education

And so on and so forth. The FSU professors urge unhappy workers to hang in because, they say, no subordinate-supervisor relationship lasts forever. They say it’s important to demonstrate one’s abilities to the overall organization in the hopes the next boss will be impressed and more supportive.

Perhaps. But, I believe life is way, way too short to be unhappy in any relationship. Our organization is far from perfect, and we’ve had our share of bad bosses. But, over the years, we’ve tried to impress upon people at all levels of the organization to speak up if there are issues. We also provide regular training on the best ways to manage up, down and across the organization.

A bad boss can have a long-lasting negative impact on the image and reputation of a company. I’d advise any employee at any organization to speak up about a bad boss. In the long run, it’s better for the employee, better for the boss and better for the organization.

Thanks to Greg Schmalz for this idea.

3 thoughts on “People quit bosses, not organizations

  1. What about the boss I’ll call the “Idiot Fraud”…he is a boss I worked for who was all fluff and no substance. His entire worklife was devoted to making the appearance that he knew what he was doing and had everything under control. That’s right just the appearance that it was real…just like one of those Hollywood Movie sets. There was nothing behind the appearance. Wall charts with buzz words…stacks of work that was just stacks of paper that was to appear like it was real work. All the employees knew he was an idiot and a fraud and couldn’t believe that he had not been found out. The employees were also amazed at the guy from Corporate who they thought would have figured this guy out…but he continued to praise this moron. Much frustration and angst on the part of everyone …to no one’s surprise everything eventually blew up but the wasted time and money left some scars on most everyone involved.

  2. CC Chapman from Managing the Gray pointed me here- this is great! I firmly believe that all people can benefit from reading the Marcus Buckinham books on management, and why people leave jobs. Frankly, I think the same principals are applicable across our lives and into our familys, where if the fundamental needs of the individuals are met, things are great; if they go unmet, there’s trouble brewing around the corner.