Gallup CEO Jim Clifton once said in a profound statement,
"The single biggest decision you make in your job -- bigger than all the rest -- is who you name manager. When you name the wrong person manager, nothing fixes that bad decision. Not compensation, not benefits --nothing."
In fact, a 2015 Gallup survey of 7,200 adults discovered that about half of them had left a job at some point "to get away from their manager." Ouch.
Not every manager is cut from the same mold. And some have no business being in a leadership role. If your office is a pressure cooker, fear is palpable, and people are walking on egg shells, look no further than who's in charge. Their days may be numbered.
Here are 8 signs that will clue you into whether your boss will make it or not.
1. Employees are unmotivated.
This usually indicates a fear-based culture lacking the practice of encouragement and respect often found in a caring environment led by strong servant leaders. Managers dismiss the value of their people and treat them as "cogs on a wheel" rather than worthy colleagues and business partners in producing excellence. This will suck the life, energy, and motivation straight out of your employee.
2. Your boss hoards information.
In Gallup research, this is the third most common reason why people quit their jobs--their managers withhold information. The real reason they do it comes down to power and control. And control at any level is one of the most effective ways to kill trust.
3. Your boss acts like a dictator.
The feeling of watching your back (for your manager's whereabouts) is never a pleasant one. Facing this type of manager during the day probably means bad news because the exchange is never positive. Job survival under a dictatorship is day-to-day, due to the unpredictability of the environment you're in. Everybody is on his or her own.
4. Your boss is a terrible communicator.
Gallup research found this to be the second most common mistake that leads to turnover -- a lack of communication. This manager, for whatever reason, won't tell you the full story. He doesn't say what he means, or mean what he says, so people don't know where they stand. He'll say one thing on Monday and change direction by Wednesday, often without telling the team. Have your magic decoder ring handy; you'll need it with this manager.
5. Your boss fails to listen.
In Gallup research, this is the fifth most common mistake that leads to turnover--when managers fail to listen. When a manager fails to listen to the collective voice of the team in pursuing a vision, chances are team members will not feel cared for, respected, or valued.
When a manager doesn't solicit the opinions of others, especially during change because change is often scary, trust begins to erode and morale goes in the tank.
6. Your boss is unable or willing to adapt and change.
When companies go through a transition period -- a growth spurt through acquisition or the need to adapt to disruptive change -- your boss's inability to take risks, roll with the punches, and his unwillingness to be open to new ideas will hurt him (and his team). He's especially vulnerable if he passive-aggressively drags his feet (out of fear) and slows down a process to push a project forward.
7. Your boss lacks resilience.
Similar to the point above, when decisions or changes are made that your boss disagrees with, his or her inability to "bounce back" will hurt him and affect team morale. The more drama your boss contributes to the workplace, the clearer the message that he doesn't support the team or organization.
8. Your boss is never wrong.
Ever work with a manager who's always right and you're always wrong? He has a hard time taking blame or ownership for things and will never admit to having made a mistake. He's more concerned with preserving his reputation and saving face. He will eventually have to learn to stop getting the last word and let others give input to important initiatives. That is, if he's still around.
What to do if you work for such a manager.
First and foremost, don't panic and quit your job...yet. You may have to endure this type of manager even getting promoted since many of them are politically savvy and "sleep in the same bed" as their executive bosses. Their toxic behaviors may fly under the radar.
But if you love your job, have hope because justice always prevails. Such toxic behaviors unequivocally lead to costly high turnover. Eventually, enough complaints from employees and their own dismal performance will catch up to them.
Protect yourself and keep your side of the fence clean by doing these things:
- Document everything this manager does that appears questionable, inappropriate, or deemed as behavior not suitable for leadership or the workplace.
- Have a backup copy of your documentation outside of work.
- Get other colleagues affected by the same manager to document everything.
- Stay professional both online and off, avoid gossiping around the water cooler and hallways about your manager. It will only reflect poorly on you as you vent.
- Avoid informal email chit-chat with colleagues about your manager while on company time and on the company's server.
- If a first-time offense on your boss's part, be assertive and talk directly to him. Tell him in respectful tone what he's doing that makes it hard for you to do your job.
- If no changes are made, pay a visit to HR.
- If you find that your concerns expressed to HR have fallen on deaf ears, they may have your boss's best interest in mind. This is a bigger problem and a sign that your manager's behavior, coupled with HR's sweeping things under the rug, is a reflection of a toxic leadership culture protecting the status quo. You do not fit that culture.
- If that's the case, now you are free to start looking for another job, and doing it with a clear conscience.