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9 Ways to Not Be a Bosshole

Bossholes drive away talented employees and cost your company money.
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A bosshole is a combination of a boss and, well, an anal sphincter. Bossholes are workplace bullies who yell at the drop of a hat and generally make their employees feel tired, lousy, and unappreciated.

For entrepreneurs, the primary danger is that you might be a bosshole but not realize it, according to Robert Sutton, author of the bestsellers Good Boss, Bad Boss and The No A****** Rule.

Here are his suggestions to ensure your inner jerk isn't making you (and your team) less effective:

1. Understand the Financial Risk

Bossholes cost companies revenue and profit--big time. "Bossholes drive away talented people and force otherwise useful folk to follow around after and clean up the emotional messes they leave," explains Sutton.

2. Monitor Your E-mail

E-mail is what Sutton calls an "emotionally thin" media that tends to magnify negative emotions. In an e-mail, anything you write that's insensitive or seems angry is likely to deeply offend or wound. So think before you click the SEND button.

3. Cultivate Reality Checkers 

Assign your more reasonable employees to be "bosshole monitors." Link their performance evaluation to telling you when you've blown it. Or maybe offer to pay $20 to anyone who points out when you've been a jerk.

4. Exercise Some Self-restraint

When you get angry or find yourself focusing too much on performance and too little on the human needs of your team, cultivate and practice emotional detachment from your own sense of frustration.

5. Get More Sleep

Even if you're maniacally-driven to succeed, you still need your sleep. "Sleep deprivation can turn even a great manager into a grumpy, intolerant jerk," says Sutton. It will also completely ruin your health.

6. Work Reasonable Hours

Every IT manager knows that running a computer center constantly at 100 percent capacity eventually results in system failure. Why would you expect a human being to react any differently?

7. Make Your Atonement Public

When you've chewed out employees or thrown a tantrum (both common bosshole behavior), publicly apologize and make it clear that you don't consider that behavior acceptable.

8. Dump Bosshole Underlings

Google statistically measures whether its managers are acting like bossholes, according to Sutton. "When Google identifies bossholes, the company sends them for re-education, and if that doesn't work, they're fired," he explains.

9. Protect Your People

If your customers treat your people like dirt, drop them as customers if possible. If there are bossholes in other groups in your firm, limit your team's exposure. Give some extra "combat pay" to employees who are forced to cope with bossholiness.

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Last updated: Jun 19, 2013

GEOFFREY JAMES | Columnist

Geoffrey James, a contributing editor for Inc.com, is an author, speaker, and award-winning blogger. Originally a system architect, brand manager, and industry analyst inside two Fortune 100 companies, he's interviewed over a thousand successful executives, managers, entrepreneurs, and gurus to discover how business really works. His most recent book is Business Without the Bullsh*t: 49 Secrets and Shortcuts You Need to Know. If you enjoyed this post, sign up for the free weekly Sales Source newsletter.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.



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