People Leave Managers Not Organizations

My many years of experience as a workplace relations/leadership expert have proved to me the wisdom of the adage, “People leave managers not organizations.” I hear the behind the door frustrations and challenges of those who report into a bad boss. The economy is improving and I predict there will be a lot of talented individuals that will leave organizations due to their frustration with a bad boss.

I am an optimist at heart. I personally haven’t met, at least not in my coaching practice, a boss who truly wants to be known as the “bad boss.” Most are mere mortal humans that have some or a combination of these challenges:
• They are blind (or arrogant) to their problematic behaviors that promote distrust or a lack of engagement
• They lack the emotional and interpersonal intelligence to succeed in the role
• They were never been taught simple but practical effective techniques for handling dicey workplace scenarios like how to deliver challenging feedback, intervene with conflict, lead change effectively or lead a high performing team.

The good news is I can help. But the recipe isn’t a quick fix. It takes focus, support, best practice modeling, appropriate challenge, continual feedback and learning new behaviors to replace problematic behaviors.

If you know someone who needs help at improving their boss skills— kindly pass my information on! I am currently accepting a few new clients. I now offer my one on one coaching sessions via Skype to help those super busy professionals with limited time challenges.

4 Tips To Be A Better Boss:
1) Be open and welcoming of input, feedback, ideas and suggestions from staff.
2) Work continually to help people clarify their roles, goals, responsibilities, expectations (what does success look like?) and priorities.
3) Avoid bulldozing change
4) Choose your change chits wisely. Most leaders underestimate the time and attention of THEIRS it will take to effectively sponsor change initiatives.

I pride myself on never having a client that wasn’t willing to provide me a recommendation or reference. Thank you for your continued support.

Maureen Moriarty, aka Workplace Coach

360 682 5807

Workers Leave Bad Bosses!

As an executive coach, I am frequently reminded that people leave bad bosses (not bad companies). I am frequently privy to the real story behind why talented people exit. In my experience, it’s not typically about the commute, the pay, the company or the work. More often, its because the employee just couldn’t stand to continue working under their current boss.

What makes for a bad boss? Beauty is in the eye of the beholder but my top ten list would include any of the following:

  1. Fails to give credit where it is due or plays favorites
  2. Fails to either promote/support direct reports with higher ups (doesn’t have the team’s backs)
  3. Fails to offer structure, direction and “order” for the team (clarifying expectations or what success looks like with work tasks)
  4. Decision making averse or wishy washy (often combined with #3 above)
  5. Fails to demonstrate a caring heart, sensitivity, compassion and attitude (no positive feedback, encouragement etc)
  6. Reacts negatively to critical feedback or bad news (i.e. retaliates, gets defensive, blaming or withdrawn)
  7. Rules with an iron fist (i.e. punitive, demeaning, condescending, passive aggressive or back biting)
  8. Micromanages (i.e. looking over shoulders, “control freak”, nit picks, can’t delegate)
  9. Isn’t open to influence
  10. Doesn’t support/coach or help direct reports advance, improve or develop

Here are this week’s coaching tips towards improving if you are a boss:

  • Demonstrate warmth with a smile or kind word. Greet your people like you are glad to see them in the morning! Offer them something to drink when they come to your office. Simply put-the golden rule.
  • Don’t be stingy with credit! Be generous with praise, recognition, Atta boys and thank you’s. The research is clear on this- humans are motivated by recognition and appreciation. Pay attention to what your people are doing well and let them know that a) you notice and b) appreciate. Good behavior unnoticed may not be continued.
  • Deliver constructive feedback regularly –not just once a year during a performance review! Accurately describe and communicate what behaviors you want continued and those you want changed or extinguished. It’s your job to make expectations clear for your employees.
  • Choose your words carefully. Loaded words that sting with sarcasm (always a double message) should be avoided. One word or action from a boss has the potential to make or break an employee’s day—this is particularly so with young or new employees. They are often starving for positive recognition and many are anxious to know how you are judging their work.
  • Noticing your team has a bad attitude? Look first to see that their attitude isn’t merely a reflection of yours. Boss moodiness is catchy and perpetual boss negativity can be deadly to morale. How you respond to a problem is a choice. Challenge yourself to deliver messages in a way that inspires vs. deflates. The most admired bosses inspire unity and loyalty with hope, optimism and workable solutions. Leaders have tremendous influence on the emotional fields of workplaces and their people. Positive emotions and words from a boss are fuel to increase morale and performance. Generosity of spirit, support and acknowledgement is also catchy. When people see the boss modeling it, they follow suit. Which would you rather have perpetuated in your workplace?
  • Be mindful about how you respond to someone bringing you bad news or critical/challenging feedback. People aren’t likely to be truth tellers a second time if they got shot down the first time. Make it safe for your people to communicate their concerns to you.
  • Earn respect and trust with these fundamentals: be transparent (explain decision making), acknowledge your own limitations (its ok to say “I don’t know the answer”), be authentic, don’t play favorites, get input from your people and maybe most importantly model the behavior you want from your people.

In my experience, most of those perceived as being a “bad” boss aren’t intentional about treating people poorly. More often it’s a lack of awareness coupled with a need for management/leadership skill development (often in the emotional intelligence arena). The good news is these are learnable skills (I teach/coach them daily).

Companies pay a high price when they lose talent under those who lack leadership skill. Bringing in a professional coach to help an otherwise valued manager learn better boss behaviors can be a solid business investment.

Are You A Negative Boss?

Leadership or a boss’s impact — it can be positive (the energetic, charismatic leader who inspires and engages) or negative (someone who walks into a room, lights a fuse with words or behaviors and is often oblivious to the chaos he/she has created). An important part of self-awareness (and emotional intelligence) is understanding how your words and behaviors affect those around you.

Some areas to think about:

  • Sole attention to business task at the expense of workplace relationships. Research indicates high-performing teams spend as much time on relationship building (how to work together collaboratively/creatively) as they do on task functions. Accomplishing tasks at the expense of people’s feelings (barking orders or being condescending) is a costly and ineffective way to lead.
  • A high need to control. Although we are hardwired as human beings with a need to control, there needs to be a balance. Individuals with significant control issues often react “big” when someone challenges their authority or position.
  • Ongoing interpersonal ignorance. Being repeatedly blindsided by intense reactions of co-workers to your actions or words should be a warning sign. If not addressed, others may interpret it as insensitivity, arrogance or indifference on your part (all of which can come back to haunt you). Being perceived as “aloof” or uncaring is another danger zone.
  • Telling yourself the ends justify the means (Type A’s, beware). Are you a boss who drives the bottom line without concern about morale? It’s a slippery slope when your command-and-control drive for results leaves bodies in your wake. Passionate drivers of workplace change can be positive influences if they present their messages in a way that inspires and persuades versus flattens and demotivates. It’s all about the delivery and your sensitivity toward others.
  • Being overly critical or negative. Constantly looking for what’s wrong brings every one else down (and the bottom line). Leaders get more out of their people with a focus on strengths, positive solutions and an inspiring vision.
  • A “shoot the messenger” mentality. The impact of leaders who react in anger or retribution will likely result in employees who fear the wrath, withdraw and may withhold important information.
  • Overreacting. It’s easy to overreact when coming from a place of fear or anger. If you have an anger-management issue or experience continual anxiety, get help.

We all have hooks and triggers that can result in an impulsive or emotional reaction. The most common:

  • A challenge to your authority (hot button for people with control issues).
  • Threats to you, your job, your compensation or going “above your head” to senior management are sure bets for generating “big” reactions.
  • Integrity issues. People understandably get reactive when their core values are violated or challenged.
  • Criticism. Condemnation, judgments or blaming are a surefire way to generate defensiveness.

The good news is there is help. The first step is to get clear about what pushes your emotional buttons so you can make a different behavioral choice.

A common tool in today’s workplace is a 360-degree feedback survey (typically completed by workplace peers) to find out how others perceive you.  I offer this to my clients.  Invest in yourself by hiring me as your coach! I can help you learn, develop and grow your leadership and coaching abilities.  I coach leaders all over the world via Skype.  Call me:  360 682 5807 or email:

New self-awareness allows us to make different choices. Understanding our impact allows us to make informed and intentional behavior choices.Not understanding the impact of our words and actions can be detrimental to career success and, ultimately, organizational performance.