This may be the 21st century with a cornucopia of management textbooks for bosses, but a significant number of employees still complain about their supervisors lacking in professionalism.

That’s according to a study by Wayne Hochwarter, a professor in management at Florida State University.

Dr. Hochwarter has long studied employee-employer relationships, as well as the dynamics that trigger poor performances, hostile workplace environments and tension. His 2011 study included responses from more than 400 employees in a myriad of industries.

Wayne Hochwarter, FSU

The study’s results:

  • 42 percent of employees reported that their boss was concerned more with saving his or her own job than with developing and assisting employees to be productive.
  • 42 percent said they failed to receive things that were promised more than once over the past year.
  • More than 40 percent of workers said they would not acknowledge their boss if they ran into him or her on the street.
  • 40 percent agreed with the statement that “the only fun thing about work is leaving.”
  • 34 percent reported that their boss is “two-faced,” in that he or she is nice in person but speaks negatively behind the employee’s back.
  • 32 percent indicated that they work for a “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.”
  • 29 percent felt that their boss would “throw them under the bus” if it meant saving the boss’s own job.
  • 24 percent caught their supervisor in a direct lie but never received an apology or explanation.
  • 20 percent have heard a supervisor tell a co-worker that he or she could “get them fired if they wanted to.”

Employee morale

The professor reports many such workers feel vulnerable without any hope of improving their workplace environments.

“For workers in declining industries such as construction and manufacturing, catching on with a company able to offer comparable wages has been virtually impossible,” Dr. Hochwarter was quoted in a press release. “Plan B just doesn’t exist for many employees at the level it did five or 10 years ago.”

Not surprisingly, many of the workers fail to apply themselves for the welfare their companies, suffer from a resulting lack of sleep, and lack in self esteem.

In my experience as a business-performance consultant and human resources trainer, the study prompts me to make two responses:

  1. The Peter Principle seems applicable — “”In a hierarchy,  every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence.” Many bosses are unqualified for management.
  2. There are sometimes two sides to such stories. Employees often needlessly point fingers and are culpable, too.

But Dr. Hochwarter’s study is eye-opening, and is a surprise considering the abundance of 21st century tools for bosses to become professional supervisors.

From the Coach’s Corner, here’s How To Deal With An Oppressive Employer.

Resource links for bosses:

Some people climb the ladder of success. My boss walked under it.


Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.