Unmasking the culture-killing leader



Posted1/22/2020 1:00 AM

A company's culture isn't worth the piece of paper it's written on if your leader is crumpling it. When a bad boss is aboard, employees feel browbeaten and defeated. Taking steps to remedy your predicament may be the key to unlocking a better workplace for you, and those around you.

Everyone has stressful, bad days, but bad managers routinely wreak havoc on employees' morale and work satisfaction. Here are the top three types of culture-killing leaders, and ways to deal with them.


Manic micromanagers

• Need to be copied on every email

• Make all the decisions

• Believe their approach is the only/best way to get the job done

All of which ends up disengaging employees. Minimize a mirco-manager:

• Look inside. Are you doing anything to ask for such nitpicking -- missing deadlines or being unprepared?

• Stay ahead of the game. Know the tasks expected and finish them ahead of time. 

• Supply updates before they ask for them.

Negative Nelsons

A manager's negative attitude is simply unacceptable and permeates everything at work. To combat an atrocious attitude:

• Take notes. What was said, when and where, and if the negativity toward you was in front of anyone else. With this information:

• Talk to your boss about what you've documented or send him an email detailing what you've experienced.

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• Don't want to discuss it with him? Talk to HR or your bosses' supervisor.

• Identify what triggers meltdowns and avoid them.

• Last resort is unfortunately to find work elsewhere. Life is too short to waste it dealing with a culture-killing leader.

Cringe-worthy communicators

A cringe-worthy communicator doesn't care if they come across as rude and disrespectful ... they're the boss, after all. Here, there's no relationship building, no emotional intelligence, and a major lack of awareness. Bad communicators don't make the connection of how their words impact employee retention, culture, and engagement.

How this leader communicates drives people away and sends a dangerous ripple effect throughout the entire company. What to do:

• Talking with the boss will only fuel the fire. However, if you deliver polite statements in a composed voice with no emotion, chances are you won't send him into a rage of fury. Such as:

• "Can we please keep our conversations professional?" (it's hard to dispute wanting to raise the level of professionalism at work.)


• "I don't think it helps the company's appearance when you swear at me in front of the customers." (can't really argue wanting to put the company's best foot forward.)

• Find a team member to confide in, someone who has worked with or for them to help you figure out how to survive this situation.

A few simple suggestions we hope will help -- we have lots more if interested. A company's culture is critical to the wellness of workplace and the engagement of employees. Unmasking culture-killing leaders is a start.

• Kristie Haase is an employee engagement manager at MRA -- The Management Association. For more information, visit www.mranet.org

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