Killer Bosses: Surviving a Bad Boss

I’ve read a lot of studies that prove the link between a boss’s effectiveness and team performance. But did you know that a good boss can help you live longer? True.

A Swedish study that followed 3,122 men for 10 years found that those with the best bosses (considerate, clear and proactive change agents) suffered fewer heart attacks than did those with bad bosses. Study participants who stayed with good bosses for 4 years had at least a 39 percent lower heart-attack risk, according to author Anna Nyberg, PhD. (Image:

I don’t know about you, but since I don’t like stress, this is strong motivation to work for a good boss, or for trying to help a boss be as good as possible!

Personality-assessment specialist Robert Hogan, PhD, researched studies of diverse workers conducted in 1948, 1958, 1968 and 1998 in cities like Baltimore, London, Seattle and Honolulu. In his meta-analysis of postal workers, milk-truck drivers, schoolteachers and other members of the labor force, 75 percent reported that dealing with their immediate supervisor was the most stressful part of the job.

Over the last 30 years, Gallup surveys of more than 100,000 employees in 2,500 diverse businesses have revealed that one’s immediate boss has far more impact on engagement and performance than any other factor. A 2007 Gallup survey of U.S. employees found that 24 percent would fire their bosses if given the chance.

Indeed, 56 percent of disengaged employees cite bad bosses as a primary reason for their unhappiness. People don’t quit their jobs; they quit bad bosses.

Good bosses create employee satisfaction that leads to retention, performance, productivity and profitability. How you treat your direct reports creates a ripple effect that travels down and across your company’s hierarchy, ultimately shaping its culture and performance.

So the question remains, what can you do to help your boss do his or her job? You might not think you can. And quite frankly, with some bosses, that’s a tough thing to try to do.

But I think the question is worth thinking about and formulating ideas and plans. For example, you could ask your boss what you could do to help him. What’s one thing you could do to make his day better? Of course, if you ARE the boss, what can you do to be a better boss?

What do you think? Can some bosses be helped to be better? If they’re going to affect your quality of work-life  ̶  and your health  ̶  don’t you think it’s worth a try?

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