We've all worked for at least one bad boss. They were lazy. Arrogant. Boorish. Outstanding examples of the Dunning-Kruger effect. They would have failed miserably on Google's key behaviors of great team managers questionnaire.
Yet for some reason, no one in a position to do so did anything about it.
So we hung in there, and did our best, in spite of our boss.
Or did we?
Hold that thought.
According to a 2015 study published by Harvard Business School that analyzed data on approximately 60,000 workers, hiring a superstar -- defined as a "top 1 percent" employee -- will save the average company $5,303.
Yet avoiding a toxic employee -- defined as "a worker who engages in behavior harmful to an organization, including either its property or people" -- will save the average company $12,489.
That figure doesn't even include "savings from sidestepping litigation, regulatory penalties, or decreased productivity as a result of low morale."
In short, it's better to fire a toxic employee than it is to find and hire a superstar employee.
The same is true for leaders. According to a 2013 meta-analysis of 57 different studies published in The Leadership Quarterly, the negative impact created by a bad boss outweighs the positive impact created by a good boss.
"Destructive leadership" significantly decreases employee job satisfaction. Employee dedication and commitment. Employee well-being. Employee turnover intention, yet another factor in the Great Resignation. Overall performance.
As the researchers write:
As expected, the highest correlation arises between destructive leadership and attitudes toward the leader.
Surprisingly, the next highest correlation was found between destructive leadership and counterproductive work behavior.
Or in non-researcher-speak, if my boss sucks I won't just hate him.
I'm also likely to start acting like him.
Bottom line? No matter how hard you try, consistently hiring great leaders is impossible. As Netscape co-founder Marc Andreessen says, "If you are super scrupulous about your hiring process, you'll still have maybe a 70 percent success rate of a new person really working out -- if you're lucky."
So, by all means, be thorough, thoughtful, and deliberate when you make hiring decisions.
But be even more thorough, thoughtful, and deliberate about dealing with toxic bosses.
Because that will make a much bigger difference on how your employees feel about coming to work every day, and on how well they do their jobs.
Something you didn't need science to tell you.