Bullying a reality for 61pc of Aussie workers

Australian workplace survey

Australian managers have a lot to learn when it comes to people management with most rated as either "horrible" or "average" in a survey of more than 2,000 people commissioned by CareerOne.com.au.

The survey, conducted by CoreData, was designed to coincide with the Australian premier of the Hollywood comedy Horrible Bosses that pits three disgruntled workers against their dysfunctional managers.

Of those surveyed, 61 per cent claimed to have been bullied at work by a boss while 12 per cent had experienced sexual harassment and 37.5 per cent said their boss had asked them to something unethical or dishonest.

Overall, 36 per cent of respondents rated their current boss as "good", 31.6 per cent as "average while 32 per cent described their boss as "horrible". When asked about their current manager 68 per cent described the boss as someone who kept staff in the dark with secrets, 57 per cent felt their manager deliberately caused dissension in the ranks and 56 per cent claim they work for a boot kisser that manages up while putting the boot into those below.

Survey respondents were asked to rate the ‘boss traits’ they find most horrible. The top three were "bullying", "belittling" and "being moody/inconsistent".

When asked how an employer should manage a horrible boss, 50 per cent nominated counselling/training. Demotion was nominated by 16 per cent while 24 per cent wanted the boss fired.

"I was really happy to see that by far the majority of people believed a ‘horrible boss’ should be counselled or receive training," says CareerOne’s workplace & career expert Kate Southam. "If a boss was simply fired, then he or she would just go on to inflict their brand of poor management on someone else."

"It is well known that most people leave managers rather than jobs so a bad boss costs an organisation in terms of productivity, quality of work and ultimately employees."

"A good manager stays a good manager when the going gets tough so the current challenging climate is a good test of what a manager is made of. Sadly, some managers don’t cut it and get moody or lash out when they get stressed."

"Strong people management skills are highly transferrable so if you are a manager and your current employer will not provide training it is worth being proactive and looking for ways to improve off your own bat," Ms Southam said.   

Of those surveyed, 28 per cent wanted to thank their boss for being a great manager. The top three qualities the survey group value most in a good manager are:

  • Sets clear direction
  • Strong communication
  • Well organised.

Kate Southam’s top five top tips for managing horrible boss situations:

  • Don’t mirror your manager’s bad behaviour. Stay professional.
  • Treat bullying and sexual harassment as a serious issue, not a personal one. Consider reporting the behaviour but get plenty of support.  
  • Try to work on projects outside your team so your talents are seen by other managers.
  • Keep an eye on the job market, network and do your research so you are ready to move before your bad boss situation robs you of confidence.
  • Don’t take your bad boss experience into job interviews. Find a tactful way of explaining why you are looking for a better work culture.

CareerOne.com.au, August 2011

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