Many bosses are manipulative, overbearing, promise-breaking brutes. At least that's what their employees claim.
Nearly two out of five employees feel that their bosses frequently fail to honor their promises, and 37 percent say they do not give credit when due, according to a new study by Florida State University's College of Business. Another 23 percent said their supervisors blame others to cover up mistakes or minimize embarrassment.
"The results aren't that surprising given the caustic images of employers presented in the media," said Wayne Hochwarter, an associate management professor who surveyed more than 700 people. "Some bosses may have the perception that if they don't forcefully impose their will, they're not acting as an effective manager. Everybody wants to be Donald Trump."
Many respondents indicated that their bosses engage in childish or bullying behavior. Twenty-seven percent said their supervisor has made negative comments about them to other employees and managers, and 31 percent said they had received the "silent treatment" within the last year.
Yet, Hochwarter is quick to point out that his research is not meant to condemn bosses, because some negativity in supervisory relationships may emanate from the employee. "The whole idea [of the survey] was not to vilify managers, but to illustrate that managers need to find out to get the best out of their people," he said.
Unsurprisingly, the researchers found that employees saddled with an abusive boss were more likely to experience job tension, nervousness, and exhaustion. In addition, they were less likely to take on additional tasks and more likely to be seeking employment elsewhere.
"It's a matter of stress," Hochwarter said. "Everybody deals with it in a way they feel best. Some disengage from their work. Others react badly, acting out with sabotage, stealing, or slacking. They may spend more time at work playing fantasy football."
The study found no correlation between level of dissatisfaction with the supervisory relationship and an employee's age, gender, or the industry in which he or she was employed.
"People who coped best [with a bad boss] were generally optimistic," Hochwarter said. "They were more engaged in their company. They still had lunch with coworkers. They were involved with company softball team. They were able to get support from other sources in the workplace."
Hochwarter suggests that a negative supervisory relationship may improve if the employer and employee talk about ways in which they can exchange constructive feedback. "Dialogue is really important," he said. "Many managers see management as a checklist where everybody gets the same treatment no matter what. Sit down with your supervisor to establish what particular things he or she can do to maximize your performance."
"They say that employees don't leave their job or company, they leave their boss," Hochwarter added. The survey results bear this out as respondents indicated that they would be more likely to leave a job due to a difficult relationship with a supervisor than they would if they were just dissatisfied by their salary.