It’s Not Me. It’s You – The Economic Impact of Bad Bosses
Although researchers will likely try to understand the ‘Great Resignation’ for years to come, some enterprising work has illuminated the influence of bad bosses. Focused on the challenges of remote work, a recent NPR article mentions the economic costs to businesses that bad bosses inflict. Here are some unique highlights from the article. The entire article is available here.
Follow the Data
Would you be surprised that both good and bad bosses achieved similar productivity levels from their subordinates? But what may be more surprising is, “What really differentiated them was something else: the rate at which their employees quit. ‘We show that that measure of manager social skills is a very robust predictor of worker attrition — and particularly attrition that the firm says is regretted: high-performer attrition,’ economist Mitchell Hoffman says. “It actually has a big impact on labor costs for the firm.”
Some believe the push for a return to office work may be generational. According to the article, “I think most of the firms pushing for a full return to the office are the result of mistakes or kind of outdated thinking,” Bloom says. “There are a number of people, particularly in their fifties and sixties, that have had, what, like 40 years in the workplace? They have done very well. They’re running big organizations. There’s this ‘mini-me’ phenomena: ‘I did this for 40 years. I want everybody else to do the same thing.”
Let Your ‘Control-Freak’ Flag Fly
But some economists believe even darker forces may be at work. The article continues, “Another theory for why managers might be stubbornly fighting the rising tide for remote work in industries where it’s completely feasible is that maybe some of them are control freaks. After all, freeing workers to work remotely is about more than simply having to chat with them via Zoom. It can also be about giving them the freedom, trust, and respect to do their work how they see fit. Some bosses apparently have angst about not being able to constantly look over their employees’ shoulders and monitor exactly what they’re doing and how many hours they’re doing it…Social scientists sometimes call this kind of supervising “input management,” as in managers are monitoring the inputs that workers put into their work: the number of hours they’re at their desk, how and where they do their work, and so on…But productivity is not fundamentally about inputs. It’s really, in the end, about output: how much you produce and at what quality. Bloom says “output management” — setting clear targets and goals and assessing overall performance — has always been a superior way of motivating and monitoring professionals, even back when we were all in the office. Nonetheless, many managers continued to focus incessantly on inputs. Then, suddenly, when office workers were forced to work remotely, output management became “the only game in town,” Bloom says.”
Remote workers pondering a return to the office have to ask if dealing with office politics is worth it, or can they pass another year enjoying their work in whatever tropical part of the planet suits them best. Only time will tell.
Trent Lyons is a Technical Recruitment Lead at Business Centric Technology. If you are interested in learning more about how to get the best IT talent in the Dallas metroplex, contact Trent, who specializes in recruiting IT talent in Dallas, Ft. Worth, and North Texas. If you are looking for a rewarding career, contact us today.