Friday, August 03, 2007

Bad Bosses Get Promoted

I was just talking to a friend about a recent job interview at which he was warned that his boss-to-be was an asshole. I shared that I had a similar interview at a university several years ago in which I was told that my boss-to-be was a total douchebag. Yes, that was the word used. That's sort of how we talk here in Los Angeles. I should probably apologize, but I'm not going to. That was what went down. I sort of think that the sooner we are honest about the workplace, the better for our conversations about it.

So my friend and I were talking about how exactly horrible people get to be big bosses while the decent folks (the majority) continue to be worker bees. This is just the bane of spirituality in the workplace. All the deep breathing and connectedness to nature are great, but how do you deal with that asshole boss? (See the No Asshole Rule for some tips)

You probably know that bad bosses get promoted, right? A new study to be presented at the Academy of Management emphasizes this rather dastardly point:

"The fact that 64.2 percent of the respondents indicated that either nothing at all or something positive happened to the bad leader is rather remarkable -- remarkably disturbing," wrote the study's authors, Anthony Don Erickson, Ben Shaw and Zha Agabe of Bond University in Australia.

Despite their success in the office, spiteful supervisors can cause serious malaise for their subordinates, the study suggested, citing nightmares, insomnia, depression and exhaustion as symptoms of serving a brutal boss.
So bad bosses cause terrible pain, and either nothing happens or they're promoted. Note that collusion with which we all operate when we don't say anything about the bad leader.