Seven in 10 Americans Believe Bosses & Toddlers with Too Much Power Act Alike
SANTA MONICA, Calif. – October 7, 2009 – Report cards are out, and bad bosses are not getting very good marks, suggests a new five-year comparative study.
National surveys were conducted in 2004 and repeated in 2009 on bad and childish boss behavior, monitoring such traits as self-oriented, impulsiveness and stubbornness, and reveal increases of up to50 percent over that period. Traits also shuffled, with “Self-oriented” moving to the top spot, far outpacing its earlier contender, “Stubborn.”
The comparative study was commissioned by author and workplace expert, Lynn Taylor, CEO of Lynn Taylor Consulting, and was conducted by an independent global research firm. “In stressful times, such as a recession or a frenzied work pace, childish, bad boss behaviors are exacerbated,” said Taylor. The 2004 study and other extensive research encouraged Taylor to write her newly released book, Tame Your Terrible Office Tyrant™ (TOT); How to Manage Childish Boss Behavior and Thrive in Your Job(John Wiley & Sons, July 2009). The book offers tips and anecdotes on “parenting” unruly managers who resemble tots in their Terrible Twos, and advises CEOs on how to “humanize their workplace.”
The trait analysis portion of the study compared toddler and boss behavior from 2004 to 2009 among 345 white-collar workers. The following chart shows “Self-oriented” catapulting to the lead in 2009, swapping places with “Stubborn” in 2004. “Overly demanding” and “Interruptive” also spiked over the five-year period.
Boss Traits Ranked by Most Cited
acting on sudden urges
“Most employees endure the antics and sandbox politics when bosses let their ‘inner child’ run wild and wreak havoc. But this book shows readers how they can take back control in their careers and thrive even when faced with disruptive ‘TOT’ behaviors,” Taylor says. “A what’s-in-it for-us mindset must trump a what’s-in-it for-me mentality among bosses and throughout the organization,” she added.
Taylor views the “taming” of bad bosses as a shared responsibility and consults with organizations on building more productive, collaborative work environments.
The following chart shows traits ranked by percentage increases between 2004 and 2009.
Traits Ranked by Largest Percentage Increases
acting on sudden urges
Findings Among Larger Group (1005 Respondents)
Age, Gender Differences
The good news is, according to Taylor, that childish behaviors can be defused by understanding the causes of bad boss behavior and taking proactive steps for change.
“Employees can use empowering, time-honored humanistic techniques to remain focused and achieve positive outcomes in their work life,” she said.
Traits to Watch For & Employee Tips
Tame Your Terrible Office Tyrant™ (TOT) lists 20 of the most common frustrating boss behaviors, divided into two major categories: “Bratty” and “Little Lost Lambs.” The first group includes: Stubborn, Demanding, Impulsive, Whining and others. The second group, representing less egregious traits, but nonetheless distracting and irritating, includes: Neediness, Short Attention Spans, Fickle and Endless Questioning.
Taylor believes that employees and management together can help mitigate “TOTs” running amok in the workplace. “Employees can use positive and negative reinforcement to effect change. You can always leave a job, but these skills are worth developing – and they’re transferable should you inherit a TOT of another variety,” she said. Taylor recommends C.A.L.M. as the best approach for creating a TOT-free environment:
Finally, Taylor reminds employees not to be patronizing, but that the humor in her message is designed to empower all those surrounded by childish, bad boss behavior. “Whether unruly or subversive, these behaviors are counterproductive to everyone, and hurt profits,” she said.
Taylor also believes that workers must be reminded that this is their career. “It’s helpful to deftly model good behavior to poorly skilled managers. Employees have invaluable skills – they own the proverbial cookie jar when they manage up,” she says.
About Lynn Taylor
Lynn Taylor is a nationally recognized workplace expert and author of the newly released Tame Your Terrible Office Tyrant™ – TOT (John Wiley & Sons, July 20, 2009). She is also the CEO of Lynn Taylor Consulting, where she provides research-based, seminars to organizations on how to establish a more productive management team and workforce. For more information, visit Lynn Taylor Consulting.com, TameYourTOT.com, or call 1-800-454-0083.