- Bullying bosses are not only bad for employee morale, but they may also compromise employee judgment when it comes to workplace safety, according to research from Portland State University (PSU). Airline pilots and manufacturing technicians were interviewed for the study, which was published in the Journal of Applied Psychology.
- Liu-Qin Yang, an associate professor of industrial and organizational psychology at PSU and co-author of the study, said that poor treatment from a boss can weaken employees' bonds with co-workers, making them feel insecure and more self-centered. As a result, these workers are more apt to forget to abide by or promote safety rules in the workplace, the study found.
- "Organizations need to understand how important it is to curb leaders' bad behavior and to create positive team dynamics, so that there will be fewer negative safety consequences for employees or customers," Yang told Science Daily. "It's really critical to manage such leader behavior, support victimized employees and prevent such issues."
Front-line managers can have a profound effect on workplace dynamics. HR departments are well-positioned to lead the charge on addressing managers' shortcomings, especially when flaws become problematic for individual workers and teams.
A 2018 VitalSmarts survey found that three-quarters of employees said their managers have "glaring flaws" they are unaware of, like being overwhelmed or distant and disconnected. Over the past year, other surveys found that 76% of workers have or have had a toxic boss and workers are four times as likely to be job hunting if they are unhappy with their manager.
In order to retain workers and cultivate stronger teams, talent professionals might consider offering more training and support to first-time managers. The PSU study's researchers recommended a few measures that organizations with flawed managers can take. Organizations might offer training programs that elevate leaders' interpersonal skills with employees and that focus on providing feedback; promote an engaged work environment that strengthens bonds between workers; and adopt transparent performance assessment processes so employees feel more secure about their positions in their teams.