Corporate Eye

Bad Bosses…Bad News For Companies

It seems inevitable that employees at some point in their worklife will encounter a bad or abusive boss. The larger they company the more likely you will find them. In a study of the UK workplace 90% of respondents said they worked for a bad boss.

Bad bosses are bad news for both employees and employers. The Better Boss Project estimates the business cost of bad bosses to be $84 billion (USD). Note — the animated image of a bad boss alone is worth a visit to this site. This cost estimate doesn’t include the human costs, stress, heart conditions and sick days that devastate individuals.

Bad, abusive or jerk bosses seem to be business’s dirty linen. It is difficult to find any company policy on these toxic people. However, I was able to find a few standouts.



Barclays PLC Hotshots who alienate colleagues are told to change or leave. “We have a ‘no jerk’ rule around here,” says Chief Operating Officer Rich Ricci.
Perkins Coie Lawyers Seattle, WA USA Associates who frequently yell at or mistreat secretaries damage their prospects of becoming partners.
Success Factors Silicon Valey They not only have a “no jerks rule,” they require all new hires to sign an agreement – they call it “the rules of engagement” — that includes making a commitment not to act like an jerk.*
* Listen to the CEO

More companies should follow the lead of these companies. Companies that ignore the problems with these scoundrel bosses do so at their own peril. A recent BusinessWeek article indicated —

Employers Can’t Ignore Workplace Bullies

A recent court ruling has implications for business. Adopting an anti-bullying policy can improve morale and help avoid legal trouble

Some suggestions for employers–

  • Be aware that bad bosses are likely to be in your organization
  • Have a company policy that indicates abusive bosses will not be tolerated
  • Implement a secure abusive incident reporting procedure, similar in concept to Corporate Governance whistleblowing
  • Consider a boss evaluation process that is completed by subordinates
  • Institute a Good Boss award that gets widespread publicity for ideas on criteria visit this site

For more information visit The Workplace Bullying Institute

I will cover tips for employees who work with bad bosses, and I had some, in a future post.

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Ed Konczal has an MBA from New York University's Stern School of Business (with distinction). He has spent the last 10 years as an executive consultant focusing on human resources, leadership, market research, and business planning. Ed has over 10 years of top-level experience from AT&T in the areas of new ventures and business planning. He is co-author of the book "Simple Stories for Leadership Insight," published by University Press of America.