Employee surveys are awesome. You can find out what your employees are thinking. But today's Bad Boss of the Week? He shouldn't have asked. Here is what happened:

I, and everyone in my department is salaried exempt. We all have at least 20 years experience and advance degrees. Every year the company does a "company morale survey."

The survey is supposed to be anonymous, but I'm guessing everyone in my group gave bad comments, because since the results were released, the boss has been an absolute jerk to everyone.

So, yesterday he sent out an email requiring everyone to be at work in the office from 8-5:30 every day. My offer letter (from four years ago) states 8:30-5:00. I had breakfast meetings with clients starting at 7:00 a.m. but my boss still appeared at my door at 5:25 "checking to make sure I didn't go home early."

I have a client dinner, which will last until late, but I'm sure if I'm not in the office at 8:00, he'll be angry. It's very demoralizing to be treated like a high school kid when I (and my co-workers) all have 20 or more years of experience and manage literally millions of dollars in our jobs.

Now, clearly, this boss was bad to begin with, or he wouldn't have gotten a bad review from his direct reports, but this puts him even worse. This is not how you respond to feedback, and (in fact), if you cannot handle anything negative you should not ask.

Now, this is a large company and the boss didn't make the decision to conduct the survey, but whoever did, is also a rotten boss. Why? Because if you are going to gather data, you need to know what you are going to do with the results, no matter what they are, when the results come back.

Instead, whoever did the survey, threw back bad results onto a manager and then let him deal with it himself. Let me give you a hint: When your employee satisfaction scores come back saying, "John is a jerk,"and you don't sit down with John and give him specific coaching and oversight, he's going to be angry with his employees and he's going to be an even bigger jerk.

If he's not getting the work out of his employees that he wants to, treating them like newbies is not going to help. When you have a team of seasoned professionals, the problem is not likely to be that they need to come in half an hour earlier or stay half an hour later. If you have one employee taking advantage of flexible schedules to the extent that it hurts performance, deal with that individual employee. Don't take it out on your entire staff.

If you find out that your employees think you are a jerk, you have two options. 1. Believe them or 2. Don't believe them. Both are actually possible. Bad employees feel picked on when bosses want them to do things like, you know, put down the phone and get to work. But, when the evidence shows that your employees actually are good employees, you need to believe them.

And, if you are in denial and decide to punish them (as this boss has done), that just proves that you were a jerk in the first place.

If you're the owner of a company, do not, under any circumstances, conduct an employee satisfaction survey unless you have already decided what you are going to do with bad results. If you do not have a plan in place, don't ask the questions, because what you are looking for is simply a pat on the back and acknowledgement that you are wonderful. And you may not be.

If you do not act, in a positive manner, towards bad feedback, you will only get one shot and learning the truth about how your employees feel. Because if you're a jerk, like this boss, and you respond in a jerk like fashion, your employees will start lying on these surveys.

Which will make you feel warm and fuzzy, but utterly confused over your horrendous turnover.

If you've had (or been!) a bad boss, email me at EvilHRLady@gmail.com.

Published on: Sep 12, 2014
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