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The Boss From Hell? What about the Employee From Hell?
Do bad bosses create bad employees?
I have written several hubs and articles about the so-called, boss from hell. We have all had one or have one presently. There are plenty of them around and we all know what they are like. But what about the employee from hell? Do supervisors recognize these types of employees as well as employees recognize hellish supervisors?
In my book, Your Career Track I provide self-administered instruments to measure three of the four tracks in which all employees, regardless of the type of organization or job, fall into. I provide no instrument to measure Track Four. Why? Because the track instruments depend on their validity on the honest responses of the respondents, or on how realistically they see themselves. Most people on the other three tracks are able to give honest responses, but Track Fours are not able to do this. They frequently do not own up to their own faults and prefer to point the finger of guilt to the supervisor, other employees or to anyone except themselves.
But just about any supervisor or manager knows at least some of the characteristics of the employee from hell. The following are some of the most common qualities and behaviors of the latter:
· Plays loose and fast with rules and regulations. Obeys them mostly when he is being watched closely by the supervisor.
· Does not cooperate or get along with other employees.
· Makes frequent mistakes or is careless or under-performs in his work.
· Disrespects or frequently disobeys his supervisors
· Is frequently absent from the job without approved leave
· Will steal or misuse organization property
· Will use illegal drugs on the job.
But, as I explain in Your Career Track, there are two dimensions to each track, including Track Four. One dimension is how the employee perceives himself, or which track he sees himself on. The other dimension is how he is perceived by the boss, or how he has been tracked. Besides the track identification instruments for three of the tracks, there are other instruments offered to measure how the employee has been tracked. While true Track Fours cannot be relied upon to make honest responses on the first instrument, they can be relied upon and do make honest responses on the instrument indicating how they have been tracked.
Any employee can easily tell if he has been tracked as Track Four by the boss. The following are some strong indications:
· The employee has received negative or less-than-satisfactory performance ratings
· The employee is not trusted by the boss, who watches the employee closely
· The employee has received disciplinary action-verbal and written reprimands-from the boss
True Track Four employees or employees who are truly “from hell” deserve to be tracked as Track Four and may deserve some of the resulting treatment from their bosses. But the problem is that many bosses will consider many employees as Track Four when they are really not Track Four in nature. Bosses will frequently condemn employees to Track Four because of one mistake or one relatively minor misstep. This makes many “employees from hell” or Track Fours only in the eyes of the beholder, or their boss.
There are two huge problems for every employee placed on Track Four, or labeled as “the employee from hell”:
1. Once on Track Four, employees tend to stay on Track Four. Many supervisors have a greater tendency to see the bad in employees than the good. Once they see the bad and place the employee on the bad track, or Track Four, they tend to condemn the employee forever on that track. Moreover, the condemned employee perceives the negative or low expectations placed on him by the supervisor and many tend to act or perform down to the low expectations-“if that is what he thinks of me, then I will prove him right!” The usual result is that the supervisor’s negative perceptions of the employee are reinforced and the employee remains condemned to Track Four.
2. As long as the employee is on Track Four nothing good will ever happen to his career. The supervisor may be too timid to attempt to fire the employee or even to apply strong discipline, but the employee will never be chosen for upward mobility or recommended for promotion. Being labeled “the employee from hell or being placed on Track Four is a curse for the employee’s career.
My advice to all employees on Track Four is to get off as soon as possible. Improve your relationship with the boss, change your behavior, improve your work performance, change bosses, change jobs or change organizations. Do what is necessary to get re-tracked.
My advice to all supervisors who have Track Four employees is to reevaluate your assumptions about the employees. The important thing to remember is that every “bad” employee can be reclaimed and delivered from the fires of hell and made into satisfactory employees if supervisors do what they are paid to do-be effective supervisors.