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Good Boss vs. Bad Boss

By Mark Watts

A former chief information officer of mine once told me, “If the project was successful I did it, if it fails you did it.” From that point on, there was no need to pay attention to him. It becomes difficult to continue to feel passion for the job once you see a lapse in integrity in your boss. It only got worse from there, so I knew it was time to start planning my exit strategy.

I was recently given the opportunity to help create a leadership development program for radiologic technologists. This first move from tech to supervisor or lead is, in my option, the most difficult step in advancing up the career ladder. The skill set to lead is not made up of technical tools taught in most radiology programs. Having a Ph.D. does not make you a great leader.

My key words of advice are first learning from the mistakes your bosses have made with you. Second, copy the best practices of good leaders.

I will start with what I call the power of a negative example. Do not be a bad boss.

Bad boss behaviors lead to poor employee engagement and high turnover. When you have a manager who treats you with respect and has your back, you are more likely to give your best and stay longer in a company, but when you have a bad boss, you’re much more likely to be disengaged, suffer from anxiety and want to leave.

Bad Boss Behaviors

Good leaders do not fall into these seven bad behaviors:

  • Micromanaging: This is the number 1 killer of creativity and innovation in the workplace. It fosters an environment of distrust as employees feel suffocated and confined. If you hired someone for a job, give them room to get it done.
  • Picking favorites: Hiring and/or promoting the wrong people. They only recommend employees in their “inner circle” for assignments or growth opportunities. They surround themselves with sycophants or “yes” employees.
  • Taking the credit for employees’ work or successes: Bad bosses will do anything to look good including taking credit for the employees work or ideas. Self-promotion is their top priority. There is nothing more demotivating than working hard to earn something only to have it unfairly taken away. This causes employee engagement to plummet.
  • Ignoring feedback/not listening: Some bosses do not admit mistakes. They take negative feedback personally and treat those poorly who give such. So employees learn not to say anything. Worse than asking for feedback is not doing anything about it.
  • Not standing up for employees: Some leaders throw employees under the bus. It is demotivating to work for a manager who does not stand up for their team. If someone makes a mistake they turn into judge, jury and executioner. They are quick to point fingers.
  • Overworking employees: It is demoralizing working for such a boss as this. They have unrealistic expectations about what is possible from employees. Their focus is on the bottom line. They hesitate to authorize personal days, or they question the need for sick days.
  • Overlooking or not recognizing employees’ contributions: Two of the most basic human desires are validation and appreciation. People want to feel appreciated, respected and included. Lots of managers think that they have fulfilled their duty by providing a paycheck, but that is not enough if you want engaged and productive employees.

A manager’s job is to facilitate a good working environment for his/her employees. Bad bosses create toxic work environments. Toxic environments drain employees emotionally, mentally and physically. I have seen many employees in these circumstances become disengaged to the point that they are only at work for a paycheck – until they quit.

Good bosses are few and far in between, and employees long for such bosses who will support, inspire and help them to grow. A recent study from Harvard Business Review found that 65% of employees would rather have a better boss than a salary increase.

There is nothing like having a boss who has your back. It is time that companies realize that all the money and perks will not retain good employees if they have a bad boss. A good boss is, without a doubt, one of the best incentives to keeping employees happy and engaged. If you do not currently have good leadership become a great leader yourself.

Mark Watts is the enterprise imaging director at Fountain Hills Medical Center.



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