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Book review: 30 reasons to hate your boss

30 Reasons Employees Hate Their Managers: What Your People May Be Thinking And What You Can Do About It

By Bruce Katcher

Amacom, $27.95

Let me guess.

You’re thinking why only 30 reasons? Did the author run out of time or pages in his book? Is he holding back for a sequel?

Why, you could rattle off at least 100 reasons to hate your boss without pausing for a breath. In a typical work week, your fearsome leader hits the 30 reason mark by around 10 a.m. on Monday.

Everyone has their horror stories about bosses behaving badly. The ones who are selective or indiscriminate in their lack of respect and social graces. The managers who’ve perfected the shameless art of kissing up and kicking down. Who believe all the world’s a stage and they’re playing the lead role. Who can’t understand why they’re the only ones working at 11:30 p.m. on Canada Day. Who think that if you have nothing nice to say you should definitely say it at staff meetings, in memos and e-mails with blind carbon copies to mystery audiences within the senior leadership ranks.

They leave us wishing that rogue scientists would stop cloning sheep and start replicating the DNA of bosses who do good and get it right. And if some of the experiments went awry and created half-baked clones, would we really be any worse off than we are today?

Author and organizational psychologist Bruce Katcher feels your pain.

He runs a consulting firm that’s done staff satisfaction and engagement surveys since 1993. And the results aren’t pretty.

"More than 50,000 employees can’t be wrong," says Katcher. "Employees hate management. Hate is a strong word but in this case it’s appropriate.

"Katcher research has found that 46 per cent of employees believe management treats them with disrespect, 63 per cent say that decisions in their company are usually not made at the appropriate level, 52 per cent do not feel free to voice their opinions openly, 43 per cent say their good work goes unrecognized and 53 per cent say their boss doesn’t personally motivate them. There’s a whack more facts and stats but you get the general idea.

So why are good supervisors so hard to find? Katcher gives six reasons.

  1. Difficulty of supervision. Motivating employees and solving job and people-related problems isn’t easy.
  2. The Peter Principle. Some organizations promote folks who are good at managing things and not so good at leading people.
  3. Poor hiring practices. In our age of specialization, employers are hiring for technical skills and not leadership potential.
  4. Lack of recognition for good supervision.
  5. Lack of training because professional development is considered an expense instead of an investment.
  6. Lack of good role models. It’s worth remembering that every boss has a boss too.

"Does management care? Are they listening to the cries of employees? In most cases, the answer is ‘no,’ and that’s self-defeating," says Katcher.

Here’s why it’s a bad idea to do nothing. Folks don’t quit companies. They quit working for lousy bosses. Some walk out the door. Others keep showing up and going through the motions, hoping their lacklustre performance goes unnoticed. On the other hand, employees will forgo more pay, perks and promotions to work alongside great leaders. And they’ll freely and enthusiastically give discretionary effort.

As the war for talent heats up, organizations need to smarten up.

Investing in leadership development is far cheaper than continually replacing high performers and dealing with the diminishing productivity of demoralized teams. And then your organization can come up with the ultimate recruitment tool by writing the book on 30 reasons why employees love their mangers.

Jay Robb, a Hamilton freelance writer, can be reached at jayrobb.typepad.com

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