“Negative interactions (and the bad apples who provoke them) pack such a wallop in close relationships because they are so distracting, emotionally draining, and deflating. When a group does interdependent work, rotten apples drag down and infect everyone else. Unfortunately, grumpiness, nastiness, laziness, and stupidity are remarkably contagious.” 
 Robert I. Sutton, Good Boss, Bad Boss

Bob (not his real name) sure knew how to put dollars on the bottom line. So the company promoted him from store manager to district manager. His district put so much money on the bottom line the company promoted him to regional manager. Bob sure could get results.

Then one day someone used the “open door” to complain about how he treated his people. HR called all his direct reports and asked if they would like to participate in an “investigation”. They all said no. Then HR required all of them to participate. Did they get an earful! The stories were in some cases hard to believe. Bob was removed from his position. He was a bad boss and despite his stellar P&L reports, caused some serious damage.

There are a lot of Bobs everywhere. And as in the above case, the only people who know they are bad bosses are those that work directly for them and they are not talking in most cases. I have surveyed thousands of workers and they have revealed that 25% of the managers they have reported to in the last five years are “bad bosses”. When I surveyed some senior managers lately their bad boss percentage was 27%! So this appears to be an issue at all levels.

Besides chasing off your top talent ( on a sinking ship the best swimmers jump off first), they cause talented people to keep their best ideas to themselves and keep out of the line of fire by doing what is expected but nothing more. In other words, bad bosses are the main reason workers are disengaged or actively disengaged. Gallup estimates that disengaged workers cost America around 400 billion dollars a year.

So if you are an owner or manage managers, who may have a problem. Our “Three Cs of Change” may help: Confront Contribute Commit. If you do not confront or admit you have this issue – game over. Don’t even finish this article. If you will confront the issue, what can you contribute to identifying these individuals? What ideas can you contribute to improve or remove them? Then what will you do – what will you commit to doing?

What we need to become the best organization possible is leaders at every level. Not mere managers, but leaders. Bad bosses don’t even make the mere manager grade. They are harming you, your customers – every stakeholder in fact.

As Al Pacino says in Any Given Sunday: “Now, what are you going to do?”

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