Unexpectedly Intriguing!
06 August 2007

Thanks to Reuters' Rachel Breitman's diligent reporting, the path to the corporate suite and the key to the executive washroom has been laid open to all! The secret to success in the workplace? Why, it's treating your employees like crap:

How do people get ahead in the workplace? One way seems to be by making their subordinates miserable, according to a study released Friday.

In the study to be presented at a conference on management this weekend, almost two-thirds of the 240 participants in an online survey said the local workplace tyrant was either never censured or was promoted for domineering ways.

"The fact that 64.2 percent of the respondents indicated that either nothing at all or something positive happened to the bad leader is rather remarkable -- remarkably disturbing," wrote the study's authors, Anthony Don Erickson, Ben Shaw and Zha Agabe of Bond University in Australia.

Okay, let's run the numbers - 64.2% of 240 people who participated in an unscientific online survey sponsored by obscure Australian academics is 154 people. That's it? Come on now, a simple Google search finds some 17,900,000 web pages involving some aspect of bosses and badness.

Frankly, we wonder if the surveyers were really even trying to collect data here. Posting the link in the comments of an obscure post at Dilbert cartoonist's Scott Adams' blog would have at least increased the survey response by, oh, a bazillion.

Instead, we suspect that the authors might have limited their study to their co-workers at Bond University in Australia. But, never mind that, let's see what havoc bad bosses can wreak:

Despite their success in the office, spiteful supervisors can cause serious malaise for their subordinates, the study suggested, citing nightmares, insomnia, depression and exhaustion as symptoms of serving a brutal boss.

Nothing to argue here, except that we should note that all these ailments can be caused by spiteful people in general - there's nothing about these effects at all here that's specific to spiteful people in supervisory positions.

But, what can we do about this apparently ginormous problem?

The authors advocated immediate intervention by industry chiefs to stop fledgling office authoritarians from rising up the ranks.

"As with any sort of cancer, the best alternative to prevention is early detection," they wrote.

They faulted senior managers for not recognizing the signs of workplace strife wrought by bad bosses. "The leaders above them who did nothing, who rewarded and promoted bad leaders ... represent an additional problem."

Obviously, the online survey taken by 240 people must have been very long. Otherwise, how else could the study's authors verify that any problems the 154 survey-takers viewed in the conduct of their bad bosses had been clearly communicated to their organization's senior managers? And let's not forget about all the detailed information that the authors have to have collected to confirm those senior leaders responded by either doing nothing or rewarding and/or promoting the bad boss who's misconduct was reported to them.

But fear not, we're sure more details are coming!

The study will be presented at the annual meeting of the Academy of Management, a research and teaching organization with nearly 17,000 members, from Sunday to Wednesday in Philadelphia.

Perhaps they'll explain what exactly constitutes spiteful conduct toward employees on the part of a manager in their presentation. In any case, they might even have a larger sample of academics to survey regarding their management.

In the meantime though, we're not going to wait. We're going to start clawing our way to the top by being really nasty to our subordinates. Success and power will soon be ours! Muhuhahahahahahah!

Bonus Data!

Fox News does what Reuters doesn't and describes what constitutes bad boss behavior!

But wait, there's more! Fox & Friends ran a segment this morning that reports on another study (link pending?) that finds that people think angry male bosses should make more money than angry female bosses. Ka-ching!


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