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With all of the hype surrounding the new movie release “Horrible Bosses,” it forces those of us that have had a horrible boss in the past to relive our own experiences. In an article I read this week on the topic, How to handle a bad boss (without killing them), a few anonymous people spoke up about their own dreadful experiences.
I was surprised, although knowing what I know about positive reinforcement I’m not sure why, that in each example, they put up with the bad boss behavior rather than do something to combat it. I realize it’s normal to have ‘fantasies’ of bad bosses getting their just desserts but why not do what you can to redirect bad boss behavior? Unfortunately most executives, looking only at results, don’t see the organizational costs of bad boss behavior.
You certainly don’t get discretionary behavior but you almost always get reduced personal output that spreads to other employees not directly affected by the “bad boss”. It is not infrequent that employees resort to some form of sabotage. Just as your boss changes your behavior (attitude, motivation, etc.) you also change hers. Although most people don’t realize the impact their behavior has on the boss, it can be significant and can turn a bad boss into a good one. The problem is that most employees do not see it as their responsibility to train the boss. However, if your life is made miserable by living with a boss 40 hours a week, it will benefit you to take on the task.
It bears repeating, as I say this quite often, that if you think that you get too little recognition or positive reinforcement for what you do at work; think of your boss because he/she gets less. Before you act (if even just in fantasy) on ousting your boss, try any or all of the following. Knowing what I know about the science of behavior and positive reinforcement, your work environment, and your relationship with your boss, is bound to improve.
A little positive reinforcement goes a long way to improving bad boss behavior. All people need positive reinforcement to do their best – bosses included. You have the ability to strengthen your boss’s good habits and improve other behaviors by how you respond to the boss’s behavior. Positive reinforcement will do the trick. Learn as much about it as you can. Doing it at the wrong time, in the wrong way or the wrong place will make things worse, but if you do it right and do it often, you and your boss will be the better for it.
© Aubrey Daniels International, Inc. All rights reserved. 2022