Supporting Employee Well-Being

Supporting Employee Well-Being

Bad Bosses Compromise Employee Well-Being, so what’s a Great Workplace to do about a Bad Boss?

Recently, The Atlantic online reported on a study which found that bad bosses can affect how your whole family relates to each other, in addition to your overall happiness and overall health, including your risk for heart disease.   

While new studies attempt to prove the impact of bad bosses to an incontrovertible, scientific, and statistical degree, we don’t need a whole lot of research to convince us that a bad boss is destructive, whether it be through egregious behaviors like racism, sexism, and a lack of ethics, or those equally  insidious, though at times imperceptible, behaviors like micromanaging, belittling, or disrespect.

For victims of bad bosses, I sadly do not have much advice.  It’s difficult to manage up in a bad boss scenario, and I must confess that bad bosses have driven me away from previous positions.  But it does beg the question, why do even good work places have bad bosses?  And, if you aspire to be a great workplace, what are you to do about a lemon of a boss?

Here’s a short list of ideas for you to consider, based on our research and work here at Great Place To Work:

  1. Hold managers accountable for team well-being.  Whether you measure trust (as our clients do through our Trust Index survey), employee engagement, or some other index of employee well-being, drill-down to the workgroup level, and hold managers accountable for their team results.  What surprises some, is that often workgroups that are lower performing in terms of business metrics, are also lagging behind in employee trust and engagement as well.
  2. Teach managers to be managers.  Promoting from within is a great way to show loyalty and reward employees who have contributed to the success of your business and model the company’s core values.  However, being a star performer does not automatically translate to being a great manager of people.  Invest in training and mentoring for new people managers at the moment of promotion, and help them key in to the sort of leader you need them to be.
  3. Focus on behaviors, not on processes.  So much managerial training focuses on how to discipline, or how to conduct reviews.  The perspective is that as a manager, you will need to know how to keep your people in line.  Instead, consider trainings that focus on the behaviors of good leaders and that focus on the positive.  Great Place To Work’s Giftwork training teaches managers how to transform every day interactions into opportunities to build trust.  When you can trust that your manager’s behaviors will align with your values and expectations, the process stuff tends to fall into place.

If all this fails, great workplaces have been known to eliminate the bosses who fail to align.  As I noted above, teams led by bad bosses often lag behind in other performance indicators as well.  Of course, the great workplace first works to enable managers to be better leaders of people, and only pursues firing as a matter of last resort.

How does your company manage its bad bosses?