Leadership Blog

Posted By: Eva Grabner | on August 24 2017

Horrible Bosses

Throughout our career we will be exposed to so many different personalities, from colleagues to clients to bosses.  And no doubt a few of us will have a few ‘horrible boss’ stories tucked away for that dinner party reveal after a few wines!

I for one, have had many Managers during my numerous lives and careers, ranging from a crazy Austrian hotelier who measured the liquor bottles in the bar to ensure we weren’t filling them with cheap replacements, to an amazing Chief Purser on ships who made margaritas and played The Offspring during meetings (so much fun!). I have also been lucky to have had a Manager who supported and mentored me wholeheartedly and whose advice I remember to this day.

Good and Bad leadership. It’s everywhere, right?  Nowadays people are more ‘emotionally intelligent’, not like the old days when you were yelled at until you perfected whatever task was expected of you.  Now there are many different policies, rules and laws to prevent bosses from getting away with inappropriate behaviour.  But it’s not always about behaviour is it?  It’s about support, empowerment, advocacy and fairness.

I read recently a report that revealed that “Taking credit for employee’s work” is the most unacceptable boss behaviour for workers and as much as 17% have actually quit their jobs as a result!  Further behaviours included:

  • Not trusting or empowering employees
  • Lack of care if employees are overworked
  • Not appearing to advocate for employees in terms of compensation
  • Recruiting or promoting the wrong people

Interestingly, male and female employees rated bad boss behaviours differently.  Women rated 19 of the 24 listed ‘bad’ behaviours as being more unacceptable compared to the male respondents.

Behaviours that men rated as more unacceptable compared to women included “refusing to friend you on social media”, “not liking to spend time together outside of work” and “requiring you to take personal days for mental wellbeing”.

44% of all respondents in the report said that they have quit a job primarily because of their bosses.  Top characteristics that made them leave include “management style”, “a condescending attitude”, “meanness or a bad temper”, “inappropriate behaviour” and “harassment of employees”.

Is this surprising that nowadays people will quit over a bad boss?  It’s a horrible situation considering how much time we spend in the workplace and I understand why some situations can be too hard to deal with and in some cases, just easier to quit.

So how do we reduce these figures?  Should we speak up?  I recommend you do.  If you are going through a rough time with a manager or supervisor, speak to your HR Manager and ask their advice.  They should be able to assist you in taking action whether it be making a formal complaint or confronting the individual with support, or just some direction on how to proceed.  For those who work in a small business and may not have a HR Manager, write down your grievances, sit down with your boss and be honest.  You never know, in some cases perhaps they may be unaware of their behaviour or actions and how they affect you.

How can employers improve?  How can you keep your employees happy?  Well, it’s simple really – ask them.  Have regular one on one sessions where you listen and they speak.  Encourage an environment where they can speak openly, even to criticize you, without you taking offence.  None of us are perfect, we are all learning every day and perhaps if we both took the time to sit down, talk and hear each other out, those statistics above would drop.

I’d love to hear about your good and bad boss experiences (anonymously of course), so feel free to email me at eva@eliteexecutive.com.au  There may even be a prize for the best (or worst!) story!


Eva Grabner
Managing Director

Elite Executive Pty Ltd


0409 59 11 88

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