Friday, March 30, 2012

ATTN Employers: Are You Being Mean Because You Can? Is the Economy Enforcing Your Mean Behavior?

I’ve noticed a trend lately and it’s not a nice trend. Employers know how difficult it is to find a job so the employees they have are being mistreated.

They are yelled at, discriminated against, punished for no reason, embarrassed among their peers and well, it’s just a mess. There are too many mean bosses out there and if you are guilty of this, even with the bad economy, this will only last so long—your employees will eventually abandon you!

I’ve interviewed people where I live in Texas and wasn’t surprised by the mean behavior their bosses, supervisors and top dogs pushed forth.  Those I talked to fear if they quit they’ll get bad or no recommendation. They fear if they leave they won’t be able to find a job—and we all know jobs are scarce.

When the movie Horrible Bosses came out, sure it was a laughing-type-of-fun-movie but in today’s world, employer meanies are more the norm than not.

Threats and even emails are sent to employees. Bosses threaten benefits and loss in wages. Basically, these mean bosses do what they want and are getting away with it.

These mean bosses are smart too. They have documented behavior maybe for tardiness a few times and even if the employee has improved in that area, they use it as the “last straw that broke the camel’s back” to help them win unemployment claims—that’s not fair to employees who live in this world of day-to-day fear.

I have a friend who told me they were practically assaulted by their employer but since they need their job and live from paycheck to paycheck, they don’t feel confident hiring lawyers to help them. Gone are the days of EEOC or Department of Labor complaints—employees really are that scared and employers and businesses are taking advantage of these fears.

Employees Are Full of Fear

I know my poll of interviews isn’t scientific in any way. It was just random sampling of friends and neighbors but most say the same thing—their bosses are meaner!

And, beyond my non-scientific poll, I found an article on MSNBC by Eve Tahmincioglu – “Hard Times Drive Some Mean Bosses Over Edge.”

The story quotes an executive recruiter, Marc Goormastic who says he knows of a CEO “threatening to throw a sales manager our of a second-story window because he hadn’t made his quota of personal sales calls.” Goormastic also points out this behavior “was totally unprofessional, and illegal.” Yet these mean bosses blame the economy for their breakdowns which is totally unfair to employees.

What’s sad is many people fear losing their jobs in a tough economy with unemployment rates at an all- time high—so they put up with illegal behaviors from bosses instead of reporting them. In Tahmincioglu’s report one person she interviewed didn’t even want to reveal his real name and was simply called “Mike”.

“Mike” says, “his boss has always been a Machiavellian, arrogant and condescending jerk, but lately he’s 10 times worse.”

Also in the MSNBC story was a quote from Sandy Gluckman who is the author of “Who’s in the Driver’s Seat: Using Spirit to Lead Successfully”. Gluckman says of mean bosses: “The more fearful they get, the more their ego takes control and the meaner they get. The meaner they are, the more the team shuts down and the less they are able to perform.”

How Mean Are You?

If you’re an employer or business owner, you know the economy is bad but why take it out on the ones that work for you? You hand-picked them right? Why put them down because you’re under pressure?

Here’s one way to tell if you’re a horrible boss. Ask your spouse or partner. Most of us talk about our work life with spouses or partners and while they love us, they may be the most honest when it comes to our work attitude and leadership style.

If you discuss your bad behaviors with your spouse or partner, they’ll be the best to advise you on how bad you really are—and you should listen to them!

It’s not just the business owners who are mean—their supervisors are mean as well because the bad behavior starts at the top and flows down. If the supervisor is being verbally abused, the supervisor will in turn, abuse those beneath him.

If you think you may have fallen into the trap of being a bad and horrible boss why not step back and look at yourself? Why not take a class on interpersonal skills or how to get along with employees or co-workers?

You may think you’re safe but it only takes one employee to run to the EEOC, Department of Labor or a labor law attorney and that could end up taking up years of your time along with large out-of-pocket attorney expenses. And, if the employee wins, you’ve got a blemish for life.

So, how mean are you?

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