The Impact of Bad Managers – and One Possible Way to Deal With Them

Regular readers know I’m a very strong proponent of frequent and public (when appropriate and preferred) recognition of star performers as well as employees who live the values day in and day out, making it possible for the stars to shine.

However, I don’t often write about the ones at the left side of the bell curve – those who are consistently poor performers. Should we publicly “out” them and their poor behavior as well?

To be clear, I’m not talking about a usually steady employee who’s having an off day, or even an off month, but those truly abysmal employees that – for whatever reason – are still holding on to their jobs.

The impact of bad bosses

Research published last month showed that employees who work for the worst bosses have an engagement level in the single digits, whereas those who work for the best bosses show up in the 90+ percent engagement range. The research authors reiterated this strongly by saying:

“Bad Bosses Negate Other Investments: As [Jim] Clifton [CEO of Gallup] points out, none of the other expensive programs a company institutes to increase employee engagement — excellent rewards, well-thought-out career paths, stimulating work environments, EAP programs, health insurance, and other perks — will make much difference to the people stuck with bad bosses.”

So what should we do with these bad bosses? Remove them from the organization? Sure, but what’s to stop them from then inflicting their poor management skills on others in a new role?

Outing HR managers in the UK

In the case of HR managers specifically, the CIPD (a UK organization a bit like SHRM for my U.S. readers) will now publicize the names of HR managers who are ruled against in disciplinary hearings. As this article in Personnel Today reported:

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While not all HR professionals who are ruled against under the new disciplinary system will have their names published, if the panel decides it is in the public interest for the names to be in the public domain it will publicise them, alongside the details of the case, on its website.”

What do you think? Is this fair and appropriate or going too far? Could someone who made a poor decision in a high pressure situation be potentially punished throughout their career for that decision?

I can see the arguments on both sides and am very curious in what you think. Please join in a discussion in comments.

You can find more from Derek Irvine on his Recognize This! blog.

Derek Irvine is one of the world’s foremost experts on employee recognition and engagement, helping business leaders set a higher vision and ambition for their company culture. As the Vice President of Client Strategy and Consulting at Globoforce, Derek helps clients — including some of world’s most admired companies such as Proctor and Gamble, Intuit, KPMG, and Thomson Reuters — leverage recognition strategies and best practices to better manage company culture, elevate employee engagement, increase retention, and improve the bottom line. He's also a renowned speaker and co-author of Winning with a Culture of Recognition. Contact him at


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