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Survey Results: A Disturbing Trend

shockedOkay, remember that survey we started a few weeks ago dealing with bad bosses? Well, after weeding through hundreds of responses, we narrowed down a disturbing trend.

Here are the results:

I have (or had) a bad boss . . .
44% said Right now <~~~ Not too shocking.
31% said At my last job
25 % said A while ago
0% said Never

The problem with this supervisor is (or was) his (or her) . . .
31% said Incompetence <~~~ An expected response.
25% said Mean or thoughtless comments
19% said Lack of professionalism
13% said Other
6% said Absence (never around when needed)
6% had No response

What I did (or will do) about it . . .
38% said Talk to my Supervisor’s boss <~~~ Completely normal action to take.
19% said Talk to my Supervisor
13% said Talk to my co-workers
13% said Look for another job
13% said Quit
4% said Nothing

Did your actions solve the problem?
99.35% said No <~~~ Wait. What? Now this is DISTURBING!
Less than 1% said Yes

Nearly no one felt like their actions solved the problem. That’s just discouraging and . . . um . . . depressing.

When I realized where the results were going, I started to scour the web looking for experts who gave “the best advice” for handling a bad boss.

I found experts who said, “just quit.” But how does that solve the problem? It just leaves the bad boss in place to torment others.

I found experts who said, “You must go to HR.” Really? And that solves what?

I looked in our own book and found the section titled When It’s Not You It’s Your Supervisor, which I posted along with the survey. It’s good advice, but I kept looking.

shocked2Then, I found something that KNOCKED MY SOCKS OFF!

Alice, a CNA who writes for a blog called CNA Edge gave this advice in a recent post:

“. . . there is a freedom in having poor leadership. It means we either learn how to become leaders ourselves or we let the system beat us down.  We learn to not just survive in these impossible situations, but thrive. We excel, when they treat us as disposable, we rise above the sniping and backbiting and keep moving forward.”

“If enough of us do this, consistently and not just when it’s easy, we will become an asset that anyone with any sense will be loath to lose. And we will be doing this on our own terms for our own reasons. We will lead by example. If we do that, eventually we will have a voice that people will not be able to ignore.”

I love Alice’s advice because it reminds us that the only thing we are REALLY in charge of is ourselves. It’s probably safe to assume that NOTHING is going to change your bad boss until he or she is ready to change.  But you can change the way you deal with the crappy situation!

Can you take Alice’s advice and find the
“freedom” that comes with having poor leadership?

Will you step up and take the lead?

How can you be the best example of leadership
when the actual leaders are blowing it?


  1. As a trainer on Civility in the Workplace, I am not surprised by these statistics. However, not everyone has what it takes to be a leader. Many people need to be led and managed. We need to encourage all companies to have a policy on incivility. It’s not easy but it’s necessary.

  2. Stacey Turnure

    May 30, 2014 at 9:54 am

    Thank you for the comment Peggy. And I couldn’t agree more. Policies on civility need to be in place. However, this particular survey isn’t exclusively about civility in the workplace. It’s more about what to do when faced with a boss or supervisor who is failing (for whatever reason) at leading his or her team.

    You said “Not everyone has what it takes to be a leader. Many people need to be led and managed.”

    But, the point here was not that everyone with a bad boss should go out and apply for the supervisor’s position. You’re right, not everyone can do that.

    The point is that those in the position of having a bad boss should simply stop whining about it and step up and do what needs to be done (as a good leader would) in spite of the poor example set by the leadership.

    And, yes everyone can do this!

    A leader is someone who . . .
    -Is reliable and trustworthy.
    -Figures out what needs to be done and does it.
    -Adapts to change, even when things become chaotic.
    -Is patient.
    -Admits his or her failures or flaws but continues to improve.
    -Helps others always, not just when it’s convenient.
    -Empathizes and mentors others.
    -Tries to stay positive and motivated, even when things get tough.
    -Can not only lead but is also an effective follower.

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