Understanding Poor Managers Reduces Stress

New research suggest poor bosses are generally one of two forms, either dysfunctional or dark. Understanding the goals and objectives of each managerial style can help employees survive and thrive in a difficult environment.

Dysfunctional bosses are individuals who are like Michael Scott from the TV series The Office, while dark supervisors are similar to Gordon Gekko from the film Wall Street, explain the researchers.

In the study, Seth M. Spain from Binghamton University, and colleagues from State University of New York, built a framework to better understand the behaviors of bad bosses — and to reduce workplace stress.

Spain explains that there are two definitions of a bad boss: dark or dysfunctional, and both can cause a great deal of stress to employees.

“They don’t want to hurt you,” said Spain of dysfunctional bosses. “Through lack of skill, or other personality defects, they’re just not very good at their job. Largely, that’s what we would call ‘dysfunctional.'”

Dark bosses, on the other hand, have destructive behaviors, and hurt others to elevate themselves, said Spain. These bosses are looked at through the three characteristics called the “Dark Triad,” which includes Machiavellianism, narcissism, and psychopathy.

“[These are] people who enjoy the pain and suffering of others — they’re going to be mean, abusive, and harassing in daily life,” said Spain.

That’s not to say that there aren’t degrees in which these characteristics are displayed. Everybody exhibits these behaviors at some level, said Spain.

According to Spain, bad bosses, whether they’re dysfunctional or dark, can cause a great deal of stress to employees.

“A person’s direct supervisor is a lens through which they view their work experience. We think, in particular, that a boss can be an incredibly substantial source of stress for people who work for them,” said Spain.

Having this framework of behaviors that bad boss’s exhibit can be the first step into fixing them, ultimately reducing stress in the workplace, said Spain.

“We believe that these characteristics are extremely important for understanding employee development and career advancement,” said Spain.

“Understanding the role that these characteristics play in stress experiences at work is extremely important, especially since bad leaders can cause so much suffering for their subordinates.”

Spain’s work is found in a new chapter from Research in Occupational Stress and Well-Being titled, “Stress, Well-Being, And the Dark Side of Leadership”.

Source: Binghamton University