Not Quite April Fools at the Water Cooler

A wrap-up of the HR news for the week ending March 29th, 2013:

Unhilariously Bad Management

Bad bosses always seem terrible in their own unique way. But truly horrible bosses share something in common: nine core beliefs. At least, so says Inc. in a post this week. They share a fundamentally broken understanding of workplace, company, and team dynamics.

For starters, bad bosses believe that management is about handing out instructions to employees and make sure they carry out their assigned tasks. They believe that employees should actually want to work ultra-long hours, and see their primary role as managing the bottom-line, rather than the individual. A truly horrible boss thinks of him or herself as the only star performer who can fix any problem, instead of having faith in others—they want the credit for successes, of course, but will let you own the failures. They require mountains of data to make a decision and yet refuse to let employees in on their decision-making process.

Really bad bosses wait until annual performance reviews to give feedback. Finally (and perhaps worst of all), they believe they’re too important to be nice.

The Actual Truth

Not all bosses are horrible, of course. Many business leaders are honest, particularly when it comes to helping their successors. Using the recent announcement by Alibaba’s CEO Jack Ma that he’s stepping down, Bloomberg makes the case for open and honest communication. Though we want the truth, as a society we’ve become more cynical thanks to twisted messages from politicians and companies that often lack true meaning.

It’s hard to be inspired by empty messages. Now more than ever, being honest with your employees and external audiences will gather attention, respect and confidence. Good change management means leaders should be open and honest in times of uncertainty, like CEO transitions, to help smooth the way for the next guy.

Get 'em while you still can

Leaders also need to think about developing the next generation. As Inc. writes this week, good leadership is hard to learn on your own. Few companies give serious thought to leadership development, but that’s a mistake.

Leadership is not inherent—many of the best lessons require unlearning old habits, default reactions, and assumptions about human nature. That’s no small feat. Plus, as the article states, leadership development works. It points to research that shows that companies that offer development programs out-perform organizations that do not.

Investing in the next generation of leadership will only help to ensure the long-term success of your company. So: what are you waiting for?

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