Your boss is a reason you have less friends than you want to (for real)

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Look, let’s be honest upfront here. Poor management is everywhere. If we BS or circle-talk our way around that, we’ll get absolutely nowhere as blog readers or employees. I’ve got a lot of stuff I can be thankful for this Thanksgiving, and I’m sure you do too. Is effective management writ large one of them? Good Lord no. Poor management is everywhere. By some measure, 82 percent of managerial hires end up being the wrong one. Could you imagine going and talking to an executive and saying, “Hey, we have an 82 percent failure rate in an aspect of our business?” There’s a legitimate chance you’d have a knife to your throat in 2.8 seconds. “Where? Who do we need to fire?!?!?” Honestly, you need to fire managers — and a whole lot of them. 21.4 million in the U.S. alone ain’t adding any economic value back to their companies.

I’ve never been sure how we became so complacent with poor management aside from “Well, that’s just the way things are!” No, it’s not. It doesn’t have to be this way by any means. We’ve all worked for complete idiot donkeys or promotion-for-themselves-seeking buffoons, but it doesn’t need to be that way. We can get better. And maybe the first step on the path is to understand the impact of poor management.

Poor management and your social decline

Here’s a new study from Dale Carnegie Training; it’s then summarized on Fast Company here. 3,300 employees across 14 countries — not a bad sample size. 26% of the U.S. employees say they will look for a new job in the next 12 months; that’s over 1 in 4. 15% are already looking for a new job. Those aren’t subsets, so all told, 41% of U.S. employees in this survey essentially have a foot out the door. That’s a little more than 4 in 10.

We spend a lot of time at work, or doing/thinking about work. These co-workers and colleagues can be annoying on specific projects, yes. But there’s a huge power to having friends and real connections at work. It’s been documented for years. And I think we all secretly know that when we leave a job, we tend to not keep in touch that well with most of our former co-workers. (Some, yes.)

We don’t tend to leave jobs because of our friends and co-workers and happy hour mates, though. We leave jobs because of poor management. In fact…

Poor management and the Dale Carnegie money quote

Ready? Ready? Brace yourself.

According to this study, a primary reason for leaving is poor management. Researchers found that an employee is nearly 10 times more likely to be very satisfied with their job when they are led by someone they feel is honest and trustworthy. Those who feel that their superiors do not exhibit such behaviors are four times more likely to be looking for a different job. This squares with results from a 2015 report by Weber Shandwick that found a chief executive’s reputation influences employees’ decisions to remain at their company.

“Honesty and trustworthy?” Nice. I’ve had a few bosses like that, but not many. Remember: companies don’t operate according to moral norms, nor do they have to. And ethics in the workplace has been in decline since roughly Moses and the 10 Commandments, best I can tell. This is a generalization, but usually people who seek power tend to be less empathetic. Those who seek power usually rise up because of how we structure companies and reward people internally. So, ultimately, most guys — usually guys — running places are soulless assholes. Is this always true? Of course not. Is it true probably more than 5 times out of a given 10? I’d take house money on that.

So what’s the lesson on poor management here?

Poor management drives people out the door. Those are your friends and support systems. Ergo, poor management is fraying social bonds at a place we spend 55+ hours per week. That’s not good. Can we fix this?

Can we fix poor management?

At a macro level, absolutely not. Poor management occurs at an individual level. It is a series of choices and confusions held by one person that impacts other people. There are ways to create better managers, yes. Most companies do not prioritize those ways. Instead, they prioritize the often priority-less, false-sense-of-urgency chasing of new revenue streams. That shit gets you advanced. Being a good manager? Who cares, so long as the money is there. Amirite?

I try to think about work in different ways, and I also try to call out some managerial BS we’ve all experienced. If that kinda sorta interests you, I do a newsletter every Thursday. Feel free to join up.

The №1 way you can fix poor management is promoting people who care, or people with some degree of self-awareness and people skills. When you only promote off hitting targets, you get bad managers (most of the time). It’s really that simple.

The №2 way to offset poor management is to provide a fiscal tie somewhere. This will increase motivation. Many people only become managers because it’s the only way to make more money in a job, which creates perverse incentive structures. Click that link and I have a few ideas there about how to evaluate managers and structure their possibility of increased financial returns. If you tie “money” to “poor management,” then people might care more. It kicks them in the wallet and they listen.

You can also try this post on 23 approaches to leadership. Leadership and management are different things, yes. But understanding how to contextualize and perceive management can go a long way to offsetting poor management.

Anything else you’d add on poor management or fixing it?

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