Remember the television show, The Office? Michael Scott was the Regional Manager of a paper company. He was funny, quirky and irrational. While he was hilarious from a distance, he’s a classic example of a boss from hell. We can all learn from the Michael Scotts of the world. By recognizing where he went wrong, and occasionally right, we will develop better leaders and, as a result, better organizations.
Bosses from hell come in many different forms. There’s the micromanager, the credit stealer, and the lazy boss who doesn’t do anything. There are bosses who won’t delegate, who are passive aggressive, or who just never seem to listen. It’s no wonder then that the main reason many employees leave an organization isn’t to quit their job—it’s to quit their boss.
Employees want a boss who’s a leader, someone with a vision who coaches, inspires, and fights alongside them. To put it succinctly, they want a leader who leads. But all too often, bosses are mere managers who issue directives without providing support and who don’t earn the trust or loyalty of their direct reports.
Managers from hell are often responsible for creating the active disengagement among employees that is estimated to cost the US economy nearly half a trillion dollars per year. Great leadership is a primary driver of engagement, and this knowledge helps organizations recognize the urgency of developing better, more capable leaders. This will lead to more engaged employees, which in turn will lead to delighted customers, additional revenue, and increased organizational growth.
Here are three way managers can develop in order to keep employees engaged and make sure you’re not the boss from hell.
Know what’s driving employees out the door
A great leader should never be surprised when an employee decides to leave. By keeping a regular pulse on employees, one can manage the employee experience which means that managers can iterate, improve and adjust according to the needs of employees. Don’t get me wrong. Not every employee is the right fit for the job they are in. Sometimes you need to move them within the organization. Sometimes you’ll note that they may be more successful outside the organization.
What’s important is that you have to at least know what’s happening. With the right knowledge, you can then make strategic decisions regarding your workforce. Everything involves tradeoffs. For you to make the right tradeoffs, you have to at least know what those are. So listen to your employees. Keep a regular pulse. You’ll be a better manager as a result.
Understand when turnover can be a good thing
As noted above, not everyone is the right fit for every organization. As a manager, your goal is to help employees be as successful as possible. Help them find the right role, and if it’s not with your company, that’s okay. Every person deserves to work at a company and in a position where their skillset is most effectively utilized. There are essentially four types of attrition:
- Win/win: An employee wasn’t a great fit, yet they are moving on to a better position for them. Their attrition is a win for the company and a win for them. For example, a weak employee goes leaves to attend graduate school.
- Win/loss: An employee wasn’t a great fit, but they aren’t necessarily leaving for a better scenario. While no one really “wins” in this scenario, an example could be if an employee is terminated.
- Loss/win: The employee was a great fit and high performer, yet they moved on to something they view as a better fit for them.
- Loss/loss: The employee was a great fit and high performer, but they aren’t leaving for a better position, or any position at all. For example, a terrific employee quits because their partner is relocating or an illness in the family requires them to adjust focus.
Savvy leaders with vision and a keen understanding of their workforce are in a better position to deal with and prepare for each of these situations.
It’s not just about training
Finally, there’s more to employee development than investing in training and education. High performers will often take steps to invest in their own training and education regardless of what their employer provides. Simply paying for employees to attend a conference or a class is an antiquated way to look at employee development and is often selling them short.
An effective leader will provide employees big problems to solve and then give them the opportunity to run. Providing employees with true ownership over challenging projects or situations can be invaluable for employees, who will then feel trusted and engaged in their work.
When it comes to bosses from hell, we’ve all heard the horror stories and seen the fallout. The good news is that it doesn’t have to be that way. With the right diagnosis, awareness and training, people can improve and develop into better, strong leaders—and that makes for happier, more productive and more engaged employees.