My Home  |  Job Search  |  Browse Jobs  |  Company Profiles  |  Career Center  |  Help  
You Are Here: Career Resources > General Articles > Few Good Bosses

So Few Good Bosses, So Many Frustrated Employees

by Gordon Miller

DENVER- Brett Burke has never really considered himself to be run-of-the-mill. But when it comes to rating his current boss’ skills at being a good manager, he’s no different than many of his fellow workers.

“Believe me, I wish it wasn’t this way. I keep hoping the next one will be better. The problem is, I don’t think most bosses know how to deal with today’s workers,” said Burke.

He may be right. According to recent research from Delta Road, a Denver-based Career coaching firm, eighty-one percent of 700 employees surveyed classified their immediate supervisor as a “lousy manager,” up a third from sixty-three percent just two years ago. Another sixty-nine percent said their boss had “no clue” on what to do to become a “good manager.”

What Makes Someone a Bad Boss?

Delta Road’s study found that the following were characteristics displayed by “bad bosses:”

  • don’t involve employees in decision-making
  • don’t buy into work-life balance
  • flat-out rude to workers
  • think intimidation is an effective management tool
  • endorse the “my way or the highway” theory
  • subscribe to the “churn and burn” management theory
  • don’t ask employees for their views or ideas

Why More Bad Bosses Than Ever Before?

A workplace culture of lousy managers isn’t new. Dilbert’s pointy-haired boss has been adorning cubicles for years. “The dramatic increase in the number of bad bosses, at least in the eyes of employees, is the big concern,” says Gordon Miller, of co-founder of Group 56.

“Most managers have no experience or training in dealing with our new economy workforce. Today’s employees have totally different requirements for their careers than the workers of the recent past. Most managers don’t know what those requirements are let alone how to deal with them. It’s basically a huge mis-connect,” explains Miller.

To further complicate the matter, seventy-nine percent of surveyed workers say they don’t want to be managed, they want to be mentored. “So how many of today’s bosses make good mentors”, asks Miller? “How many have the skills to be a coach, not just someone who gives orders? Until more supervisors develop those skills, the problem will remain intact.”

What’s the Impact of Bad Bosses?

The proliferation of bad bosses is contributing to a continued waning of employee loyalty. “We found that more than one-third of all workers plans to change jobs in the year 2001”, says Miller. “In fact, sixty-seven percent of employees say their company does not deserve their loyalty, partially due to the lousy manager syndrome.”

“Employee dis-loyalty is very expensive. Our studies show the average cost to replace a departed worker is around $36,000”, explains Miller. “Plus, when dissatisfied people leave for greener pastures, they also take unrecoverable intellectual capital, training investments, and sometimes other employees. Combine that with demographics that show there will continue to be a shortage of qualified workers for years to come, and you can see the magnitude of the issue. Even a softening economy won’t have much of a impact.”

But the biggest impact may be the spill-over bad bosses have on the morale and productivity of people who decide not to leave the company. “Most workers just don’t understand why their employer doesn’t do something about their lousy manager”, states Miller. “Consequently, they lose passion for their work and quickly slip into a mediocre performance level.”

So What is the Answer?

“If you are looking for a quick fix, forget about it”, says Miller. “But the coaches at Delta Road agree that there are some short-term steps that both the worker and the employer can take to improve the situation:”

  • If interviewing with a prospective new boss, ask him/her for the names of people who have left their department or company in the last few months (The boss’s handling of this request will tell a lot.)

  • Present to the existing “bad boss” your proposal of work you want to do to help the company reach it’s goals and the tools you’ll need to accomplish the work. (Again, the boss’s response will tell you what your future will be like working for that person.)

  • Ask the existing “bad boss” for a weekly or monthly “progress meeting” to discuss activities, concerns, and the like. (Most bad bosses avoid confrontation. If they don’t agree to this request, the future isn’t bright.)

“There is some encouraging news”, explains Miller. “Seventy-seven percent of employees surveyed said they would seriously consider staying in their current position if their bad boss made an honest attempt at changing.”

Need Help from a Career Coach?
Gordon Miller is a career coach, speaker, and the author of The Career Coach: Winning Strategies for Getting Ahead in Today's Job Market (Doubleday). Gordon is also the author and speaker on the Video, You’re Hired! 5 New Ways to Get a Great Job in a Down Economy, which can be found at He can be reached at

Submit Resume | Job Search | Company Profiles | Feedback | Terms/Privacy | About Us

Site Map | Partners | Link To Us | Alumni.NET

© Copyright - JobsCity.NET - All Rights Reserved.