How to Avoid Being a ‘Bosshole’

How to Avoid Being a ‘Bosshole’

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Stanford business professor Robert Sutton is back with a new book, Good Boss, Bad Boss: How To Be the Best and Learn From the Worst. Here’s what he has to reveal about what makes good bosses tick and bad bosses tick people off:

Bad Boss:

“The story that amazes me still is a company that sold motivational-type stuff — which is ironic — and this boss, concerned that sales were down, got really excited at a company picnic and literally waterboarded a guy. He took a jug, poured water down the employee’s throat and said, ‘See how hard this guy is struggling? That’s how hard I want you to work to make sales!’ He was actually a fairly well-liked guy; he just lost control.”

Good Boss:

Good bosses know how to listen. It sounds easy, but it’s actually pretty hard. It’s also encouraging employees to come to you with bad news. Teach your employees to fight with you in a way that’s constructive. When you fight in an atmosphere of mutual respect, you can flesh things out. It’s a very high level of art as a manager to be able to fight with people and have them love you even more because you know how to fight.

Bad Boss:

The de-energiser. After talking to a de-energiser, people tend not to be as energised, feel less good about themselves, are less willing to work as hard, and are less creative.

Good Boss:

Give the people who work for you a sense of why you’re doing things and some sense of predictability about what lies ahead, either positive or negative. When employees have a boss who keeps shocking them without any forewarning, they get nervous. A little predictability is something most people want.

Key questions to ask yourself

  • Do you know how to push without being a jerk?
  • Second, after someone talks to you, do they feel like they have more or less energy?
  • And third, do employees feel like the boss has their backs?
  • These questions go back to self-awareness.
    Do you know what it’s like to work for you?

Championing the ‘no asshole’ rule

Discover what Robert Sutton has learnt about bosses through actual real-life scenarios, and how you can survive that boss — or be a better boss yourself. Sutton’s books, The No Asshole Rule: Building a Civilised Work Place and Surviving One That Isn’t and Good Boss, Bad Boss: How to Be the Best and Learn From the Worst, are both available on kalahari.net.

Chris Penttila
Freelance journalist Chris Penttila has covered employee management and leadership issues for more than a decade.