If you’ve seen the movie Horrible Bosses, I’m hoping you did it because you lost a bet/got your money back/at least enjoyed your popcorn didn’t recognize yourself in any of the film’s managers, played by Jennifer Aniston, Kevin Spacey and Colin Farrell.
If you’re not familiar with the film, which opened nationwide on Friday, here’s the gist: Three friends (played by Jason Sudeikis, Jason Bateman and Charlie Day), trapped in terrible jobs but afraid to quit due to the economy, plot to kill each others’ …wait for it…horrible bosses. As you can guess (unless you’ve never seen a Hollywood film ever), things don’t go exactly as planned, and hilarity ensues. (Or at least I’m sure what the director had in mind.)
For the most part, Horrible Bosses is a complete waste of an otherwise entertaining cast – and viewers’ time; however, if there’s one redeeming quality about the movie, it’s the lesson it teaches in what not to do as a manager. Despite the absurd characters and storyline, the movie brings to light one important truth: Many employers take unfair advantage of their employees’ work and time, falsely believing their employees are simply grateful to have a job.
Aside from the obvious offenses – blackmail, public humiliation, sexual abuse, cocaine-and-hooker benders – Horrible Bosses also reveals some not-so-obvious habits real-life managers need to break now (lest they don’t want to stay managers for long).
Five Habits of Horrible Bosses
Do any of these characteristics describe you?
- You over promise and under deliver. You may think you’re motivating your employees by encouraging them to work for a promotion or raise that you know is never going to happen. (Hey, as long as it makes them more productive, right? And isn’t the satisfaction of knowing you did a good job enough?) But you can’t dangle that carrot in front of them forever, and when they catch on, they won’t see what you did as motivating – they’ll see it as manipulative.
- “Because” is not in your vocabulary. Don’t leave your employees in the dark when it comes to business decisions – especially those that affect them directly. If they’re not getting a promotion or raise, give them a reason why – a real reason. You’d be surprised how understanding they can be; otherwise, they’re going to assume the worst – both about you and the company.
- You don’t ask for feedback. As a boss, you may feel like you need to have all the answers, all the time. (There’s a reason you’re in charge and they aren’t, right?) But you’re not always going to have the right answers. Or the best ideas. You’re just not…which is why you need to hear ideas – even arguments – from your employees’ perspective as often as possible. They’re not necessarily going to have the right answers, either, but they will have valuable insight that you can always use.
- You do ask for feedback…but that’s all you do. What’s the point of employee surveys if you’re not actually using the results to change or improve some aspect of the business – and communicating your efforts to them. Otherwise, you’re not only wasting everyone’s time, you’re sending the message that your employees’ ideas don’t matter – and nothing kills morale more.
- You take credit for their work. Sure, maybe a lot of victories are ‘team efforts’, but when you fail to recognize people for their individual contributions, you’re telling them, “I probably could’ve done this without you.” Give credit where it’s due…before you lose all the people who deserve it.