Few bosses are aware of how their employees really see them. The very nature of a boss-employee relationship curtails honest, unadulterated feedback. Bosses are commonly disliked for their intrusiveness, lack of trustworthiness, inability to give praise, boorishness, and poor communication skills. The Center for Creative Leadership in North Carolina , a leading firm in developing managerial skills, estimates that “15% of managers….. are legends in their own minds”- indicating that one in seven managers will rate themselves higher in 360-degree evaluations than do their employees.
George Bailey, of the consulting firm Watson, Wyatt Worldwide ecalls reporting to a CEO after conducting firm-wide interviews: “Most of your employees, if they saw you in the parking lot, would speed up and hit you”. There are many quiet ways that employees can take out their frustrations on bad bosses. They range from vicious compliance- the literal destructive pursuit of orders; “l didn’t call the client back because you demanded the report by five”, to work slowdowns and sabotage.
More overtly, they can quit. With unemployment at its lowest level in nearly 30 years (4. 3%), in many industries, the balanced of power has shifted from boss to employee. According to Tim Walsh, marketing director of software company IM’, personality conflicts between managers and employees is the “No. 1 reason people leave their Jobs”. Finding talented people to replace those that quit is a time consuming, cost intensive process that results in productivity dips.
Another economic reason for the shift in power between boss and employee rests on the tenants of the information society. Market capitalization used to be based primarily on physical assets. Currently, more than half of a firm’s perceived value in many industries stems from its “smart people” or intellectual capital. When these people get fed up with their bosses and quit, they take the firm’s value with them. Furthermore, the American Society for Industrial Security reports that loss of proprietary information for many firms comes from their own employees.
Thus, bosses who tend to have high turnover in their functions have come under closer scrutiny. Some firms, such as Miller Business Systems, an office supply company, have resorted to charging $30,000. 00 against a manger’s budget for every employee that quits- the dollar amount of the cost to secure and train a replacement. The new efinition of employee as a smart, valuable asset has created new boundaries for acceptable behaviors from bosses. Bosses need new tools for managing a more empowered and humanized work force.