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Save the Workplace: Fire Bad Supervisors and Managers

Save the Workplace: Fire Bad Supervisors and Managers

In the New York Times article referenced in my immediately preceding post, the new research on performance reviews spills over into the subject of proper supervision in the workplace. Most employment lawsuits have a supervisor or manager at their center. That doesn’t always mean that the supervisor has done something wrong, but many times, it means exactly that. Although HR generally shepherds the performance review process, supervisors and managers make the process work — or not. If a performance review is completed by a bad supervisor, it’s much more likely to get you in trouble than serve any useful purpose.

But there’s more to it than that. If a supervisor can’t properly complete a performance evaluation, it’s highly unlikely that she can properly supervise her employees. Part of the new research also demonstrates that supervisor bullies use the performance review as a way of undermining — bullying — their employees. The performance review is intentionally biased or inaccurate. This type of supervisor holds the performance review over the heads of employees duirng the entire review period — and then lowers the boom.

The biggest source of stress on the job is caused by an employee’s immedicate supervisor. Sometimes, that’s necessary. Most of the time, it’s not. A good supervisor isn’t a bully. He doesn’t scream and yell. He doesn’t treat subordinate employees with disrespect. He leads. He coaches. He makes employees successful. He also has the backbone to dismiss an employee who isn’t motivated to do a job effectively by leading, coaching, and respect.

The biggest cause of workplace stress. The biggest cause of discrimination charges. The biggest cause of employment lawsuits. Bad supervisors and managers. And there’s no mystery about what to do. Fire them.

  1. John, I agree with most of the points you make along the way, but I think your conclusion is wrong. The problem isn’t individual supervisors and managers. It’s systemic. We need to improve the quality of supervision before we can have a meaningful discussion of performance evaluation systems.

    I’ve blogged about this in more detail under the title, “Let’s not fire the supervisors just yet.” It’s at

  2. Research confirms that high employee turnover is largely due to bad supervisors and managers. Research also confirms that people are promoted to supervisors or managers on the basis of technical ability, without ensuring that they possess adequate managerial expertise. Consider, for example, the case of an accountant who happens to be appointed as accounting manager, on the basis of his or her accounting skills, largely because the person responsible for the appointment did not realize that there was a dual function to perform: that of an accounting technician and that of a manager! Managers by occupation (rather than by profession) are hazardous to corporate welfare, because they usually do not realize the importance of teamwork, concern, motivation, preparation and develop¬ment, feedback, communication, inter-personal skills, tact, and other fac¬tors. These individuals cost the business organization far more than the salaries they are paid…, yet they continue to be employed and promoted, without even being tested for adequate managerial skills – this confirms the application of “The Peter Principle”! Would any sane individual allow him-self/herself to be taken for a ride in a Mercedes-Benz, which is driven by an individual who does not possess adequate driving skills, let alone a valid driver’s license? Why, then, does the farcical trend of appointing “managers” continue, despite the foregoing?
    The proper balance must be struck, between technical skills and mana¬gerial skills.

    Prior to their appointment as managers, the employees in question should be required to enroll in a sound management-training program. This will help con¬tribute towards an environment which fosters brotherhood through effec¬tive leadership, ethics, teamwork, and management.

    For free abridged books on leadership, ethics, teamwork, motivation, sexual harassment, etc., write to

    Maxwell Pinto, Business Author

  3. Wally,

    It’s an honor to receive a comment from you. I’m hesitant to disagree with you on this kind of subject, so I’ll read carefully your post “Let’s not fire the supervisors yet.” I’ll leave a comment on your blog.

    Thanks again for the input.


  4. Maxwell,

    Thanks for your comment. To some extent, what you say ties into Wally Bock’s comment, and I’ll give some serious thought to all this. I appreciate your pointing out the need to address supervisors and managers on the front end. If this is done, firing supervisors and managers wouldn’t happen all that much.

    Thanks again.


  5. John: I heartly agree with what you put here. To a degree, I disagree with Maxwell. I believe employees understand the managers and supervisors are human beings, not perfect, and those they can’t tolenrate, or the difference between the good and bad is, lack of integraty. No training is available for the lack of integraty. It is innate.

  6. Joyce,

    Thanks for taking the time to comment. Your point is quite interesting. I’m not sure I had thought about equating bad supervision with a lack of integrity. While I don’t think that’s always true, it certainly is some of the time. You’ve given me something to think about.

    I wish there were some sort of magic integrity training. If there were and the training worked, it would solve a lot of problems in the workplace and elsewhere. But you’re right — no such luck.

    Thanks again for your comment.


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