How Do Bad IT Managers Manage To Keep Their Jobs?

Just because a boss is bad does not mean that they are going away
Just because a boss is bad does not mean that they are going away
Image Credit: juanp. GC

Let’s face it. Not all IT managers have the IT manager skills to be good bosses. However, for those of us who are, when we encounter one who is not, generally speaking we all have the same thought: just exactly how are they holding on to their job? I think that we can all agree that a boss who mistreats their workers should be fired. However, sometimes this doesn’t happen. Why not?

Why Don’t Bad Bosses Get Fired?

I can only speak for myself when I tell you that I tend to have a high opinion of any company that I am working for. I mean, after all, they did hire me – right? When I see that my company has a bad boss working for them I tend to think that this is a short term problem that maybe can be corrected with some IT manager training. I believe that the company will quickly see the error of their ways and will take steps to fix or get rid of the bad boss. However, all too often this is not what happens.

So why doesn’t a company drop a bad boss like a hot potato? It turns out that the reason is pretty simple – a bad boss can actually look very effective in the short run. So what makes a boss a bad boss? These bosses generally have one or more behaviors that can be classified as being either bullying or undermining. Oddly enough, studies have shown that employees who work for this kind of bad boss tend to be more engaged in their work than other employees.

The next thing that you would expect is that workers who find themselves working for a bad boss would be leaving. I mean, who really wants to go in to work or do any IT team building when you know that you’ll be spending your time with someone who clearly does not treat his or her workers well? Once again, just like me, you’d be wrong. Studies have been made that show that workers who have a bad boss tend to stay in their jobs for up to two years longer than other workers. I personally find this kind of fact just amazing.

Why Do Workers Stay With A Bad Boss?

At this point in time, most of us are probably starting to think that clearly bad bosses are better bosses. Perhaps it’s time for you to start to adjust your management style and become more of a bully and start to undermine the members of your team. However, that would be a mistake. It turns out that any advantages that come from being a bad boss are only temporary.

Initially, bad bosses can come across as appearing to be high performing bosses. However, that is not going to last. What will eventually happen is that the company is going to see more turnover on their team. The employees who don’t actually leave have a much greater possibility of becoming burned out. Finally, the greatest risk to the company of employing a bad boss is that they increase the risk that an unhappy employee is going to turn around and end up and suing the company.

It turns out that there are a lot of bad bosses out there. Surveys have shown that half of the workers polled said that they had left a job because of a bad boss. What was even more worrying was that 56% said that they were currently working for a bad boss. Less motivated workers will quickly leave a job in which they find themselves working for a bad boss. The reason that some workers will remain in a job that has a bad boss comes down to two reasons. The first is that they are highly motivated by their work, no matter what boss they are currently working for. The other is that they see this job as being a stepping stone to their next position, once again no matter who they are working for.

What All Of This Means For You

In the world of IT managers, we’d all like to think that there are only good managers out there. However, the reality is that there is a mix of managers: the good ones and the bad ones. Although you and I might think that the bad managers should be fired, all too often that is not happening. The big question is why not?

Although I think that we can all agree that a bad boss is bad for a company, it turns out that somewhat surprisingly people who work for a bad boss are more engaged in their work than the other employees at the company. Additionally, people who work for a bad boss tend to stick around at the company longer. The benefits of being a bad boss turn out to only be temporary. Generally, workers will leave when they have a bad boss. They may also burn out or they may end up suing the company. The workers who stay when they have a bad boss generally are dedicated to the work that they are doing or they see this job as a critical stepping stone in their career.

As we look at the other managers that our company employs, we may discover some that appear to be very good at what they do. Their team is working hard and not a lot of people are leaving. However, if we keep looking for a while we may discover that because they are a bad boss, their team is suffering. In the end, it turns out that none of us should ever want to be known as being a bad boss!

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World IT Management Skills™

Question For You: If someone that you know is a bad boss, do you think that you should take the time to let them know that you see them this way?

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