We all know that quitting bad bosses is one of the top reasons why people quit their jobs. Most research and surveys show poor leadership, management or supervision near the top of the list of reasons why people quit. Why then are there still so many bad bosses in organizations? Bad bosses are still around for three reasons: not enough people are quitting them, when people quit they don’t say why, or other leaders just don’t care enough to do something about bad bosses.
Few things feel as good as quiting a bad boss.
So what is a bad boss? You need to be the judge of what is bad for you. Even if some of your coworkers think that your boss is great, you’ll still need to decide what you can live with, everyday.
never stop quitting bad bosses
If everyone with a bad boss quit their jobs tomorrow, the global economy would come to a screeching halt for a very short time. If that actually happened, organizations would immediately address their leadership issues. Disruption like this on a macro scale isn’t going to happen, but we can all do something in our little, micro worlds: when fixing a bad boss has failed, quit as soon as we can.
Believe it or not, very few really bad bosses are able to hold on to a job for more than a couple years. Their incompetence and tyranny catches up with them, but it often takes regular or massive staff defections for organizational leadership to wake up to the disruption, costs, and pain caused by bad bosses.
if it’s safe, say why you’re quitting
There are some good reasons to keep quiet when quitting a bad boss. In a local, or even global, job market, nobody wants to burn bridges or get a bad reputation. Also, being able to deliver in spite of difficult coworkers and leaders is a skill valued by many employers. Trust your gut, and if you can safely say why you’re quitting, do it. Good leaders care why their best talent is leaving or why there’s a steady stream of exits from a particular team. Recruiting and hiring is costly. If you trust that an exit survey will be truly confidential, that’s your chance to tell your story.
quit organizations that passively support bad bosses
Many organizations passively support bad bosses; maybe not for long, but for long enough. No organization will ever say it, but they do it. Why would an organizational leader support, or at least not get rid of, a bad boss? There is only one reason: they don’t care enough about you. Someone or something else is more important to them than you. Often, getting rid of a bad boss means admitting that someone made a mistake by hiring that person in the first place. Perhaps your bad boss has friends high places. In some organizations, admitting mistakes and challenging power relationships could mean a quick exit out the door. But that’s someone else’s problem, not yours. Do you really want to stay at an organization that doesn’t care how people are treated?
In part three of this series, I discuss how to survive your bad boss long enough to get another boss or another job.