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24 Jul, 2015

76% of Working Adults Have Suffered Under a Bad Boss, U.S. National Workforce Survey Finds

HERNDON, Va.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–23 July 2015 — The Jack Welch Management Institute at Strayer University, a leading executive MBA program for working managers, today released findings from its national workforce survey, which was conducted to determine how employees perceive their managers, careers, and workplace culture.

Based on the survey, eight in ten workers report having a good relationship with their boss (84 percent), and seven in ten further believe their boss to be both a good manager (71 percent) and a good leader (71 percent). Despite this, three quarters of professionals (76 percent) say that they have had to deal with a bad boss at some point in their career.

“It’s disappointing to learn that so many working professionals have had to work under bad managers at some point,” said Dr. Andrea Backman, dean of the Jack Welch Management Institute. “Too often, people are promoted to manage teams for the first time, often as a result of excelling in their individual functions, but may be unprepared for the fundamental mindset shift and new skills that come with leadership. Despite all of the management training resources out there, it appears that many leaders do not understand the needs of their employees or how to best build, motivate, and differentiate top-performing teams. We need to break this disconnect by emphasizing candid communication, encouraging continuous professional development, and by helping managers learn leadership essentials that can change the game.”

Survey respondents weighed in on the characteristics they would use to describe their worst boss, which included micromanaging (35 percent), being unapproachable (33 percent), acting phony (32 percent), being unreliable (28 percent), and lacking focus/organization (25 percent).

Conversely, respondents also selected the traits of great bosses, which included being approachable (54 percent), intelligent (42 percent), invested in their employees’ success (37 percent), authentic (27 percent), passionate (21 percent), empathetic (18 percent), and energetic (17 percent).

“The most successful leaders today are both authentic and generous. Being invested in the success of your employees is a leadership trait that is often overlooked by new managers,” said Backman. “Your employees will invest in their work as much as you invest in their professional growth and success. They want their managers to be real people who exude energy, optimism and genuine concern for the team. We found that working Americans are much more likely to describe their ideal boss as someone they can connect with, rather than someone they fear or are afraid to approach.”

Are you working under an effective boss? How do you know? Backman recommends asking…

  • Are you able to draw inspiration from your boss?
  • Does your boss value candor and trust?
  • Does your boss listen to all points of view, but move as a leader to be decisive?
  • Does your boss seem truly invested in your success?
  • Does your boss make time to celebrate your team’s achievements?
  • Does your boss share credit or take credit?
  • Or is it your own performance that is negatively impacting your relationship with your boss?

If you have determined you’re working under a bad boss, Backman suggests that you weigh whether it’s better to work for a good company with a poor manager or a good boss at a weak company. Usually, if your organization has a strong culture and your boss is underperforming or undermining the company values, he/she will eventually be replaced. However, if you don’t feel aligned with either your company or your boss, Backman advises that you need to have the confidence to seek out a situation that may be a better fit with your values and goals.

“No professional intentionally develops into a bad boss. Most people have every intention to be great managers, but it’s important to constantly check yourself as a leader,” said Backman. “Good leaders are continuous learners who solicit feedback, who grow from that feedback and who want to constantly upgrade their own leadership abilities. The best leaders realize that their role is no longer about them. It’s about growing others. It’s about helping the team shine.”