Some say the recession of 2007 was the worst in US history. Some even call it “The Great Reset.” For those of us that are “lucky enough to have a job”, I am sure you are experiencing some of the worst management you can remember. Unfortunately, when times are tough, survival mode kicks in and bad managers just get worst.
Job satisfaction survey after job satisfaction survey shows that one of the main reasons people leave their jobs is because of conflicts with others and their boss. During bad economic times, the ability to leave your job because of bad management is severally reduced. Thus, the ultimate feedback mechanism to gage a bosses ability, employees leaving, is literally shut off. In fact, any kind of feedback on bad boss behavior is either ignored or white washed because bad behavior, as long as results are still being achieve, is accepted.
Recent employee satisfaction survey’s are mixed on whether bad times bring employees and bosses together or just make the work place more miserable. One alarming trend is clear — employees are more dissatisfied than ever with their jobs.
Weeds out the Bad
A couple of recent surveys reported over at work matters suggests that maybe bad times weed out bad bosses since upper management uses bad times to fire incompetent bosses. It even suggests that multiple rounds of layoffs bring employees and bosses closer together since surviving such ordeals creates a situation where mutual support and compassion can naturally flourish. I can see this being true for a certain category of boss but what about the competent, asshole, who gets stuff done yet treats his employees like dirt. Do those types of bosses get worst during bad times?
The Trend Looks Bad
A Job Satisfaction survey conducted by the The Conference Board shows that job satisfaction is at a two decade low among all demographics. This quote sums it up:
“Fewer Americans are satisfied with all aspects of their employment, and no age or income group is immune. In fact, the youngest cohort of employees (those currently under age 25) expresses the highest level of dissatisfaction ever recorded by the survey for that age group.” — The Conference Board Job Satisfaction Survey Jan 2010.
This trend is disturbing because it cuts across all demographics and age groups. Furthermore, when employee satisfaction is so low, tribal knowledge is not passed on nor do people want to assist their fellow employees in improving. This does not bode well for companies because dissatisfied, disengaged employees reduce the overall performance of the organization.
Bosses are Important
A Gallop Poll shows that:
“Whether unionized or not, world-class organizations have two crucial things in common: They recognize that talented managers are the core of an organization’s success, and they understand and leverage the fact that engagement predicts performance.” — The Compensation Cafe
So if talented management and engagement matter for the success of an organization and most Americans are not satisfied with their employment, then it must be most companies are managed poorly. Couple this with a bad economy, where most people are literally in survival mode, and you get the amplification of bad management practices because employees fear losing their jobs, just want to survive and the feedback on bad management is shut off.
All is Not Lost
Ultimately, the trend will have to reverse since once the economy turns around and employees have options, they start to exercise those options. In fact, most employers are worried about losing their talent when the economy turns around and are taking steps to try and retain employees. One thing is certain, managers bear the burden for keeping their employees engaged and on the job. During bad times, they tend to slack on that responsibility since the focus is on just surviving. This behavior leads to low productivity and poor employee engagement which amplifies bad management.