Last week we highlighted a cast of characters in the Witches and Warlocks category who cast their spells on the workplace, creating a toxic work culture.
This week let’s take a look at the flip side of a toxic work culture— horrible bosses, AKA Trolls!
Trolls are horrible bosses who make you want to scream with their bullying, micromanaging or up-and-down, rage-like behaviors. The troll boss may hog the credit for your achievements, throw you under the bus or show a total disregard for your wellbeing.
The Devil – Or in this case “The Devil Wears Prada”. Who could forget Miranda Priestly, portrayed by the talented Meryl Streep in the film? Just thinking about that icy stare sends shivers down my spine. Her character is ruthless, manipulative, and unnecessarily cruel. She regularly demands impossible tasks from her employees, like scheduling a flight out of Miami during a major hurricane or getting a copy of an unpublished Harry Potter book, just so her daughters can read it before the release date. She imposes upon her employees at insane hours with no regard for their personal lives. The absurdity makes it comical, but there is nothing comical about being bullied in real life. We’ve all either encountered or witnessed bullying in our lifetime. A study by Workplace Bullying Institute, showed that 19% of American workers reported being bullied or having previously been bullied at work, with another 19% who reported witnessing it. Bullying can be psychologically and emotionally damaging and can be very difficult to overcome.
The Micromanager – I think most of us have seen the memes of Gary Cole playing Bill Lumbergh in the movie, Office Space. This cult classic has generated inspiration for countless memes on social media, including the most famous, “If you could go ahead and do that, it’d be GREAT!”. And while Bill models several troll boss traits, he is the consummate nitpicker and is constantly focused on trivial matters such as report covers instead of spending time on more important issues. He spends most of his day hovering over his staff and well…micromanaging, right down to the enforcement of Hawaiian shirt day.
Micromanagement is a sign of weak leadership. What are the signs? A micromanager is constantly asking for updates and is more likely to revise your work than provide feedback on how it could be improved thus providing a development opportunity. You are not allowed to make even small decisions, and because this type manager is quick to find fault, in even the smallest of details, projects are likely to be delayed and stress increases well beyond normal levels, sometimes even to the point of causing physical harm.
A study performed by Trinity Solutions showed that 70% of people polled considered quitting their jobs and 30% did quit because of being micromanaged.
The most ironic thing about micromanagers is that they often believe their oversight is a measure necessary to achieve excellence. However, the time spent helicoptering over their employees is likely exactly what is keeping them from effectively managing their department.
The Brilliant Jerk – It almost sounds like an oxymoron. There was certainly nothing moronic about Gregory House in the TV Series titled, House MD. The Huffington Post referred to his character as the “Sherlock Holmes” of medicine. But unlike Holmes, House goes out of his way to be rude, shirk responsibilities that he feels are beneath him, and thinks the hospital policies are “suggested guidelines”. There is no question he’s a genius when it comes to the practice of medicine, but what is the cost of keeping someone like House around in the real world?
We’ve all worked with a gifted high performer who was an undeniable jerk. To put it simply, they don’t play well with others. Historically, this type of toxic boss tends to get a free pass when it comes to being rude or abrasive as long as they are delivering results. However, new studies have shown, there is a high cost to tolerating or even rewarding the brilliant jerk.
They can tear an organization apart from the inside out. They introduce toxicity into organizational culture that reduces moral and increases team turnover. In the long term, this toxicity will erode even the best of strategies.
The Work Institute estimated that 77% of turnover could have been prevented by employers. And that turnover on average it costs 1/3 of an employee’s annual salary, and 1 to 1.5 times the annual salary for high tech jobs.
The Rage-aholic – I can think of no better example of a Rage-aholic boss, than Gordon Ramsay, Celebrity Chef. He has been wildly successful with his cooking themed shows like Hell’s Kitchen, Kitchen Nightmares, Master Chef, Hotel Hell, and 24 Hours to Hell and Back – just to name a few. Viewers can hardly wait to tune in to each episode to see Ramsay scream in the faces of incompetent chefs, struggling and sometimes delusional restaurant owners, or even difficult customers. He is not swayed by gender, looks, or social status. He is an equal opportunist when it comes to raging.
Whether it’s scallops sticking to the pan, undercooked lamb, or unsanitary food handling, Ramsay is notoriously abrasive and ready with a robust collection of swear words and devastating insults. With his bullish belittling, he leaves behind a broad wake of dumbfounded and tearful, kitchen staff.
When we see characters like our troll bosses on TV or in the movies, we laugh. In real life having a toxic boss can take its toll. You may dream of telling your boss to go jump in a lake? But they’d probably just delegate it to you, micromanage it, and then take credit for the awesome splash!
It’s important to know when to stand up to your boss and equally important to be professional in your approach. You’ll want to think through any possible repercussions to ensure the truth doesn’t set you free from your job. Be specific, be confident, and recognize that you cannot control the response, but you can get outside help. If the behavior is extreme or unlawful you should immediately seek help from your HR department. You may not the only person being impacted by the boss’ behavior. No one should feel unsafe, disrespected, or unappreciated at work. Speaking with HR will give the organization an opportunity to protect you and your peers from suffering a toxic work culture due to a troll boss.
We’ve shown a lot of examples of troll bosses, using fictional characters that people can easily relate to, so using that same theme, who is our favorite “Best” TV boss?
As a longtime fan of NCIS, the honor goes to Leroy Jethro Gibbs, who is head of the NCIS Major Case Response team. He is a strong leader who will take the heat for his team and frequently shows a caring side. He does all the right things you would expect of a great boss. He offers clear direction, gives stretch projects, trusts his team to get the job done without micromanagement and has a good sense of humor. He goes out of his way to makes thoughtful gestures to his staff, like keeping Abby well stocked in Caf Pow, her favorite high energy caffeinated drink. He also provides positive feedback when the team achieves measures of success. You can see how meaningful it is by the pride beaming from Tony’s face when Gibbs says, “Good job DiNozzo!”
He empowers his team to be independent thinkers instead of micromanaging. He expects them to find their own solutions and trusts they will get the job done. Throughout the series many of the team have been offered external opportunities. But the loyalty that comes from strong leadership and culture drives top talent retention.
This week, we’re talking about Witches & Warlocks – employees who cast a spell on the work environment creating a toxic work culture. Toxic employees come in many forms, cause harm, and spread their bad behavior to others. Let’s review the cast of characters.
“Not my problem” and their cousin “Not my job” – This employee does the bare minimum to get by, complains when asked to help out, and if what is being requested doesn’t fall squarely in his or her ball court, good luck getting the assist! The risk here is this bare minimum attitude is contagious, other employees may decide it’s just the standard. So, what do you do? First, let’s look at what might be motivating this behavior. An employee may feel like the company doesn’t really care about them, they are just a “number” or “it’s just a job”. So, he or she does only what is required and is first out the door at closing time.
Employees may be more willing to go the extra mile if they feel leadership is willing to invest in their career development. Schedule some time for an open and honest career goals discussion. Set clear expectations, lay out a plan for career development with regular check-ins, holding the employee accountable for continued progress. With a little focused attention, “Not my problem” could transform into “Put me in coach!”
Eeyore – This employee is best described as mopey, depressed-like, and generally negative. While we want everyone to feel welcome to express their opinions, the Eeyore tends to only express negativity and focuses on the problem without bringing ideas for a solution. All you need do is turn on the evening news or look at social media to know, bad news is popular and can spread like wildfire!
While it may not be Eeyore’s intention to usher in the rain cloud, the negativity has the potential to be a real morale buster! Your employees may feel like they need to look at rainbows and kittens just to make it through the rest of the day after encountering an Eeyore.
There are a few things you might try in this situation. Set aside a few minutes of each team meeting and ask employees to share some positive news. Encourage, and potentially incentivize celebrating the successes of others. If you are in an office setting, you might keep blank notecards handy that anyone can grab to write an encouraging note to a deserving co-worker. Virtual notes are just as encouraging! Consider creating a contest where your team emphasizes positive feedback. An increasingly popular idea is an electronic system which awards points for praise, and then the points can be redeemed for merchandise.
Gossip Girl (not the TV series) – We all love a little drama, but the Gossip Girl (or Guy) is someone who thrives on drama and talks eagerly and casually about other people. They like to hear the latest news about people and may seek out opportunities to interact with others, intent on prying into everyone’s life, sucking up all the gory details like a vacuum cleaner on Sunday.
If it starts with “Did you hear” — just don’t.
So, what’s the best way to handle this issue? It’s simple— gossip should not be tolerated. A one on one meeting is a must. It’s important to let this employee know that his or her behavior is disruptive, unprofessional and diminishes the respect and dignity of other employees, be quick to set boundaries and stay firm.
“Not my Fault” – This employee refuses to admit when they are wrong, is quick to point the finger, and is more concerned with defending themselves than finding a solution to a problem. They don’t embrace the “we are all in this together” attitude, but rather only look out for themselves. In this toxic situation, it is important to listen first and to test the claims. Is the passing of the ‘proverbial buck’ a symptom of poor performance? Try assigning this employee more solo assignments, then carefully review their work. If there are no other co-workers to blame, any persistent claims of not being at fault will become more transparent. Better to remedy poor performance sooner, than later.
Toxic employees and the toxic culture they bring come with a price tag. Research shows that good employees are 54 percent more likely to quit a toxic work environment and team wide performance drops by 30 to 40 percent. What’s the best way to avoid a toxic employee culture? To not hire them in the first place. Careful screening and leadership development are the top ways to build a strong culture.
What did you think of the different types of witches and warlocks? Have you encountered any of these in the workplace? Let us know what you did to help solve the dilemma!
Welcome back to Week 2 of our Halloween Monster Mash Blog Series! This week we are talking about the Ghost, and Frankenstein! Spoooookyyyy!
The Ghost – A person involved in the recruitment process who ghosts a candidate after he or she has advanced to the interview process.
What is ghosting? It is the practice of suddenly withdrawing from all communication without explanation.
Anyone who has tried to find a job in a fast-paced market has likely been ghosted at some point. An astounding 65% of job seekers say they never (or rarely) receive a rejection notice from employers.
On the flip side, anyone involved in the recruitment process knows it can feel overwhelming to personally respond to everyone who expresses interest in being hired to your company. Even more so if you are processing hundreds or even thousands of applicants.
In today’s tech savvy world, we have applicant tracking systems that can send an instant, automated response stating only candidates being considered for the role will be contacted. This is a great way to level-set on the front end.
But what about the candidate who spends hours of their time, often juggling a busy schedule for phone screens, video interviews, face-to-face, and even call back interviews, only to then be ghosted if not moving forward? Not only is it a terrible feeling, but it’s a drain on the time and energy they could be putting into other areas of their job search.
You might be thinking, if the company doesn’t plan on moving forward with a candidate, why should it be concerned with their candidate experience?
Today more and more job seekers are leaving negative feedback regarding their candidate experience on job search sites such as Glassdoor, social media and social networking sites, or sharing by word of mouth, making company brands more public than ever.
According to Glassdoor, 58% of job seekers consider a positive experience to include clear and regular communication, 53% clear expectations, and 51% feedback regarding rejection.
Additionally, 40% of applicants state they would pull out of the recruitment process due to a poor first interaction with the Recruiter or Hiring manager, this is only 4% less than the number one reason given, which is the announcement of a recent layoff.
This means it is important that some type of response be given to all that have taken the time to apply and interview. While automated responses are a useful tool for candidates not being recommended for interview, anyone who advances to the interview stage should receive timely follow up on the status of their candidacy. It may not be a comfortable conversation, but by creating a personalized interaction, it’s sure to help you stand out as a true professional and be a good reflection on your employee brand.
The Frankenstein – a group of HR systems that have been ineffectively pieced together resulting in inefficient business processes or data integrity issues.
Typically, when deciding on HR software the choices are between a best-of-breed approach or a comprehensive package. Either can be successful if approached with a strategic plan.
Best of breed typically offers custom solutions that can cater to complex program designs and provide a more granular level of function reporting, but little in the way of HR Analytics or cross functional dashboards. Additionally, systems can get bogged down due to multiple integration points.
Purchasing a comprehensive package is generally considered to be very user-friendly, with features like single sign on, and the benefit of robust reporting capabilities. Older versions offered little in the way of granular level customization, but rapid advances are being made in this area.
At times, companies will start with one “base” system and as the business grows, systems will be added based on individual department needs in an ad hoc way with no real strategic design. This is what we call the Frankenstein.
The Frankenstein will drain your team of valuable time and resources and increase the potential for error. It often involves pulling multiple reports to get all the data needed for comprehensive analytics.
Automation and streamlining processes mean more than simply adding technology to a current process. It’s important to understand what problems you want the system to solve, what is working with the current process, and what is not.
You’ll want to consider what you need for customizations and at what level, create a list of required features, narrow the list of solution providers, maybe ask a few trusted resources for recommendations. Consider scheduling demos for the top 3, discuss the system pros and cons and then select the one that meets the majority of your needs and provides the best overall price.
Implementing the right system can redesign how your HR department does business, streamline interdepartmental processes, and potentially provide a high return on your investment. You may even be able to accomplish more with a smaller team! Take that, Frankenstein!
Thanks for reading this week’s installment, we hope you enjoyed it! Be sure to check back next week for more of our twists on HR processes.