09 October 2007

Which Came First?

Live Science is publicizing a new study about the effects of an abusive boss---one of which is that workers tend to slack off. What is unknown is whether slacking is caused by bad bosses...or if having slacker workers leads to bosses taking on more tyrannical approaches.

Employees with difficult bosses checked out in the following ways:

  • 30 percent slowed down or purposely made errors, compared with 6 percent of those not reporting abuse.
  • 27 percent purposely hid from the boss, compared with 4 percent of those not abused.
  • 33 percent confessed to not putting in maximum effort, compared with 9 percent of those not abused.
  • 29 percent took sick time off even when not ill, compared with 4 percent of those not abused.
  • 25 percent took more or longer breaks, compared with 7 percent of those not abused.
The study looked at traditional businesses, not schools, but the findings are still of interest to me. I can honestly say that I took a sick day last year (I called it a "mental health day") because Boss Lady 2.0 was just awful enough that I needed a day away from the office.

What constitutes a "bad boss"?

Employees say that abuse from bosses includes put-downs in front of others, ignored e-mails and other correspondence and being berated.

Hochwarter and his colleagues conducted another survey in 2006, in which they polled about 700 people in a variety of professions about supervisor treatment, finding:

  • 31 percent reported their supervisor gave them the "silent treatment" in the past year.
  • 37 percent reported their supervisor failed to give credit when due.
  • 39 percent noted their supervisor failed to keep promises.
  • 27 percent noted their supervisor made negative comments about them to other employees or managers.
  • 24 percent reported their supervisor invaded their privacy.
  • 23 percent indicated their supervisor blamed others to cover up mistakes or to minimize embarrassment.
Yep, been there...experienced nearly all of that, unfortunately.

How many students, I wonder, have teachers that might fit this profile? If so, would this be a possible cause of "slacker effect"? This article reminds me of the study released this summer that two out of three workers have seen bad bosses either rewarded or never penalized. There seems to be little question that not everything that rises to the top is cream...or what comes first in developing these situations. The real question is what we do about it.

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