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Bad bosses promoted, not punished


The annual meeting of the Academy of Management in Philadelphia this week will be the venue for the release of a new study that claims the best way to get ahead in the workplace is to be a tyrant. That's the conclusion drawn from an online survey of 240 participants, the majority of whom indicated that either nothing at all or something positive happened to the bad leaders in their workplaces.

I guess that if a person is intimidating, it works below or above that person.

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Toni Bowers is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and is the award-winning blogger of the Career Management blog. She has edited newsletters, books, and web sites pertaining to software, IT career, and IT management issues.

10 comments
Chaz Chance#
Chaz Chance#

Reading between the lines, a mere 154 out of 240 people (not much of a survey, it was online so why didn't 100,000 people respond?) said that somebody they didn't like was never punished, and sometimes got promoted. Sour grapes will have influenced the response of several. Of course if someone you don't like gets promoted you will be inclined to say it's because of something or other, that's human nature! Where any of the respondents privy to the actual promotion process in each instance? I doubt it. So HOW DID they know why the person got promoted? If they had interviewed professional HR people or CEO's on the subject and found this out, then I WOULD be impressed. And they would have boasted the fact if they had. So how can you take this tripe seriously? All of the postings I have seen in this section appear to be from educated, rational people, so I can't believe that any of you are gullible enough to be taken in by such unscientific nonsense. As a contradiction, I once hinted to a SVP that one of the middle managers in my area was bullying a colleague. I refused to give any names, figuring that they might give all the managers some training, or create guidelines for staff relations, or something, which would benefit everyone. Now, I am not privy to the HR process for firing, so I cannot honestly say that my actions were the cause of this manager taking the opportunity to spend more time with his family. But it suites my ego to think so.

dd8989
dd8989

Boss backwards: "Double SOB"

dalmei
dalmei

That may be true for a certain amount of time. However, when the Boss start lashing their most valuable players, my experience is that his team will sabotage him and "pull his pants" in public at a crucial time, exposing wherever weaknesses they may have.

Tell It Like I See It
Tell It Like I See It

Actually, I saw this kind of backlash happen. People were so unhappy with a particular VP that they left the company -- sometimes before they had gotten another job. Others were transferring out of the departments this VP oversaw (yes, plural on the departments). It became an inside joke that this VP's area was considered the "revolving-door" area of the company. I've heard that other VPs were openly critical of this particular VP. The people who transferred said that things were all screwed up in that area (that's about all they said). Even the people who were still reporting to this VP made comments like the "revolvin-door area" and "it's like nobody wants to work in this area". Why? Well, the really big problem was that there was total chaos. People were in a totally defensive, reactionary mode. And the VP seemed to like it that way; as if all this running around is a good thing (but it wasn't). For example, you had Telecom workers who used to be programmers trying to look at code to solve client issues. Then you had Customer Service Reps calling telecom providers to get line status updates and relaying that to the clients. DBAs were told they had to take calls and do manual data entry. Eventually this VP went from having 50+ reports down to about six, maybe as many as nine (tops). The VP was also removed from reporting to the head of the business unit and now reports to someone who reports to the head of the business unit. I believe that people will put up with a lot of crap for a time. Any company can have an emergency situation and well-treated people will be willing to step up and become heroes. That's natural. It's also natural that if the situation isn't handled somehow, people will get fed up with the management and look elsewhere. This happens when you have greedy management that wants to make emergency operations the new normal operational pace. Any good leader knows that you have to stand down from emergency operations sometime. If you don't, then you are letting the emergency manage you. If the emergency is managing you, then your competence as a manager is in question. If you competence as a manager is in question, people will start looking for other leaders to follow.

luckyg
luckyg

Tyranny does not make a BAD BOSS. You cannot run any organization by committee. Look at the US Government and the mess the Congress makes everyday, heck every minute!! The only difference between a BAD BOSS and a GOOD BOSS are that the decisions made by a GOOD BOSS are from experience and knowledge. Those decisions benefit the organization which then translates to everyone in it. A BAD BOSS makes decisions based solely on ego without regard of the organization's goals.

Wayne M.
Wayne M.

The way to be successful is to make use of the brainpower of all of one's staff, not to try and do the thinking for them. As the old saying goes, "Democracy is the worst system, except for all of the alternatives."

Absolutely
Absolutely

One system has been even less successful than dictatorship: anarchy.

Absolutely
Absolutely

There are many reasons for organizing companies into hierarchies, with one person telling several others what to do and to a large extent how to do it. One reason is to limit accountability for bad decisions. Your boss is accountable for all the bad decisions he tyrannically instructs you, and your co-workers, to make, so that you can only be accountable for being too lazy to do any work at all, and for a relatively small array of judgment calls. This makes the work of your boss's boss simple enough to be possible; each of her direct reports (suppose, 10 of them) is accountable for a reasonable number of decisions, so that manager only has to keep track of 10 assistant managers, instead of 100 underlings. A boss that isn't "tyrannical" is irresponsible. "Tyranny" is an inappropriate, incorrect concept for this discussion, because being an employee in a company owned by somebody else means that somebody else is bearing the major risks of the company going bankrupt or running afoul of the myriad of SEC regulations while employees are covered by unemployment insurance. Any decision-making authority employees have is granted at the business owners' discretion, not by right.

Pratorian
Pratorian

From the non-manager viewpoint, I often contemplate the "the beatings will continue until morale improves" management style. From personal experience, I see this works during lean times (using an assumption that ones staff is mentally stable and can take dictatorial managers without going off the deep end. You know what I mean). But what happens when the job market opens up? When the notion that offshoring is only saving me 0.006% over 5 years, and final quality dropped 30%? I knew a man whose unit turnover went from 2.something% to over 30something% when the technical job market turned around. I contemplate the benefit to the firm when all of their trained staff walk leaving this manager singing the "it is HR's responsibility to get me more candidates" blues. Of course, management has to walk a fine line and has to make sure business goals are met. But I often wonder if but by actually using the spine God gave you, one could accomplish both meeting business goals and keeping good staff for the long term. Of course, that is just my opinion, I could be wrong...

Gary-Jackson
Gary-Jackson

Throughout the history of Capitalism it has been more profitable to reward incompetent bosses who could drive their workforces than to reward good bosses who could lead their team.