Often, bad bosses’ lack of leadership skills can be traced back to a single issue: poor training. Managers who’ve never had formal leadership development may rely on subpar supervision techniques. It’s up to you to standardize leadership training and prevent quiet quitting.
Bad bosses aren’t born to be difficult. Often, their lack of leadership skills can be traced back to a single issue: poor training. This means their flaws can be fixed. However, the longer companies continue employing subpar supervision techniques, the worse it will get for their employees.
Lousy management has a ripple effect throughout all parts of an organization. If you’ve ever wondered why quiet quitting became such a phenomenon, you only have to look at all those quitters’ bosses.
When Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman did a deep dive into quiet quitting, it found how true this was. Supervisors who received high marks from their direct reports had fewer quiet quitters in their ranks, and supervisors who got low marks had more. Ultimately, those in the latter group struggled to get their teams to stay efficient and productive.
This doesn’t mean that all those managers are making employees’ lives harder on purpose. In many cases, they simply haven’t received any kind of formal leadership training. Rather, they’ve been expected to cobble together a personal supervisory method without much help. The result? Businesses full of toxic bosses who aren’t following prescribed protocols — and who may be disgruntled themselves.
Managers are employees, too. The longer they go without any kind of professional development, the less inspired they’ll be to stick around. What manager wants to keep receiving negative reviews from team members? It’s just easier for many supervisors to resign and find an employer who will foster and fund their natural leadership abilities rather than make them fend for themselves.
Want to turn around a faltering leadership featuring bad bosses? Below are some methods to help you build your leaders’ skills and cut down on all the habits of bad bosses.
- Put serious thought and money into leadership training.
The Society for Human Resource Management found that 57% of respondents believe their managers could use extra training. However, you can’t just toss a one-time training at this problem and call it a day. The only way for supervisors to stretch and flex their skills is to undergo continuous learning. This requires executive support as well as funding. Rik Nemanick, Ph.D., adjunct instructor at Washington University in St. Louis, noted that it can be hard to find the budget for this kind of training. Nevertheless, he firmly believes that consistent training pays off, particularly when it’s done as early as possible. After establishing someone has the core competencies of their role, Nemanick suggests putting them through education modules.
Provide training for leaders either in-house or through outside courses,” he says. “Follow up initial trainings with refresher training opportunities. Just because a leader took a course on performance reviews three years ago doesn’t mean they have mastered the skill.”
Ideally, your chosen training setup should become part of your broader corporate culture. When contributors are identified as high performers, you can begin to invest in them. This gives them both room to grow and a chance for you to see how their talents blossom. Remember: Managing others is a specialized role, not a technical one. The more information and insights managers can learn and bring to their jobs, the more effective they’ll be at directing their teams.
- Conduct feedback reviews as a matter of course.
It’s not uncommon for leaders at the top of a company to be unaware that they have bad managers in their midst. They’re removed from so many day-to-day processes that they can’t see what’s happening. However, they can set the stage to model behaviors that will improve the capabilities of managers several layers beneath them. One such behavior is providing individualized feedback based on data as well as 360-degree reviews.
A 360-degree review can highlight a boss’s assets and liabilities like nothing else. For instance, a manager may rate herself as highly empathetic, but those under her may radically disagree and say she lacks the emotional intelligence they need from a leader. Seeing this kind of objective data laid out in a 360-degree review can help you and other upper-level executives make plans to close any gaps.
Plenty of corporations conduct 360-degree reviews. But, as noted in Harvard Business Review, the resulting reports are often distributed and shelved. This does a disservice to everyone who could benefit from them. Take time to read through all the 360-degree reviews of your direct reports and talk about them in your one-on-one meetings. Help your employees see where they may be disconnected from team members. Then provide your leaders with applicable training topics or other learning resources like formal mentorships.
- Create succession plans that include a need for leadership development.
Do you want your employees and managers to take leadership development seriously? If so, map out a structured path for workers to follow to move up the ranks.
When you fold leadership development into your formal succession planning, you send a clear message: This is critical to the success and continuation of our company. It’s especially effective if you require it of all current and future managers moving forward. As long as everyone follows the rules you lay out regarding upward mobility in your organization, you could wind up with a solid, well-trained group of leaders and employees.
Another advantage to having a set succession plan backed by professional development must-haves is that it’s easier to break biased promotion decisions. An article in Psychology Today by Chicago professor and writer Derek Lusk notes that “poor leader selection is a symptom of an old mind weighed down by ‘the dead hand of the past,’ a psychological glitch that reinforces bad leadership by choosing socially aggressive charismatics, regardless of their decision-making and ability to galvanize people toward a vision, goals, and objectives.” When you prioritize one type of leadership training for all leaders, you remove a lot of those biased promotional decisions.
A bad boss may really be a good boss in disguise. Your job is to help them take off the toxic “mask” so your managers can do their best work.
Written by Rhett Power.
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