If you think your boss’s behavior resembles a spoiled two-year old, then join the club. A five-year comparative study on bad and childish behaviors in the workplace shows that more U.S. workers believe their bosses need a timeout.
The analysis relies on surveys conducted in 2004 and 2009 that compare the characteristics of toddlers in their terrible twos with annoying behavior displayed by supervising managers. The research involved 345 white-collar workers and focused on behaviors and traits such as self-oriented, impulsiveness, stubbornness, overly demanding, interruptive and throwing tantrums. The Lynn Taylor Consulting firm, which specializes in human resources and workplace policies, commissioned the study.
The data revealed a 50% increase between the 2004 and 2009 polls in the number of respondents citing self-oriented and interruptive behaviors as bad deeds exhibited by their bosses. “In stressful times, such as a recession or a frenzied work pace, childish, bad boss behaviors are exacerbated,” explains Lynn Taylor, CEO of Lynn Taylor Consulting.
The 2009 survey’s participants ranked the following as frustrating actions displayed by their bosses: self-oriented (60%), stubborn (49%), overly demanding (43%), impulsive (41%), interruptive (39%) and throwing tantrums (19%). “Whether unruly or subversive, these behaviors are counterproductive to everyone, and hurt profits,” says Taylor.
The research also examined the responses of 1,005 employees, finding that seven in 10 workers believe that bosses and toddlers with too much power behave the same. “Most employees endure the antics and sandbox politics when bosses let their 'inner child' run wild and wreak havoc,” Taylor says. “A what's-in-it-for-us mindset must trump what’s-in-it-for-me mentality among bosses and throughout the organization.”
She recommends the following best practices for creating a work environment free of a terrible office tyrant:
- Communicate: Frequently, honestly and regularly with your boss.
- Anticipate: Think ahead about potential emerging problems, but have solutions ready. Know your timing and the boss's patterns.
- Laugh: Humor is the greatest diffuser of tension and the shortest pipeline to the memory banks.
- Manage: Manage up by being a proactive, positive problem-solver, but also set limits to bad boss behavior. Diplomatically set boundaries, offer choices and stand up for yourself.
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