Monday, October 11, 2010

Good Boss Bad Boss Book Review

Ever have a boss from hell? Have horror stories that can make any employee’s toes curl? Then Good Boss, Bad Boss: How to be the Best…and learn from the Worst by Robert I. Sutton is the perfect book for you!

Here is a description from Publisher’s Weekly:

Want to be a better boss? Unaware that you're a terrible one? Robert Sutton (The No Asshole Rule) is here to help. The cost of callous and cruel superiors is considerable: employees with an abusive boss are more likely to work slowly, make deliberate errors, and even suffer heart attacks. With examples from such diverse workplaces as Pixar and Anchor Steam brewery, Sutton reveals how the best bosses take diverse and intertwined steps to create effective and humane workplaces, and offers tips on taking control, getting and giving credit appropriately, taking responsibility, staying in tune with employees, and squelching your potential inner jerk. Using real-life examples and insight gleaned from 30 years of experience as a manager, Sutton teaches his readers to become the boss employees enthusiastically want to work for. This entertaining, satisfying guide is a wakeup call for bosses everywhere--and a survival guide for those who work for them.

Here are twelve behaviors that Sutton says can distinguish good bosses from bad ones:
  • Good bosses have an incomplete understanding of what it feels like for employees to work for them and realize it;
  • Success depends largely on being the master of obvious and mundane things, not on magical, obscure or breakthrough things;
  • While having ambitious and well-defined goals is important, the good boss’s job is to focus on small wins that help employees make a little progress every day;
  • One of the most difficult parts of a good boss’s job is to strike a balance between being too assertive and not assertive enough;
  • A good boss’s job is to serve as a human shield, to protect his employees from external negative influences — including the boss’s at times;
  • A good boss strives to be confident enough to convince people the boss is in charge and humble enough to realize he can be wrong
  • A good boss aims to fight as though he was right, and listen as though he was wrong, and to teach that to others;
  • A boss’s best test of his leadership and the organization is a positive response to the question: “What happens when people make a mistake?”
  • A good boss encourages his people to innovate and test new ideas, and help them abandon the bad ones
  • A good boss realizes it’s more important to eliminate the negative than accentuate the positive;
  • A good boss knows that how he does things is as important as what he does;
  • A good boss knows because he has power over others, he is at great risk of acting like an insensitive jerk and not realizing it.

My Review:

As a student studying Human Resources I found this to be a very insightful read that mirrored many of the ideas that have been discussed in the classroom. I love that Sutton provides many great examples of horror stories that can show you the real effect that having or even being a bad boss can have on not only the people who work for you but the organization as a whole.

Backing these stories with actual studies that have been conducted by various educational and public institutions, Good Boss Bad Boss is not afraid to get down to the nitty gritty of the darker side of organizations.

I was quite shocked by the examples of Bad Bosses that Sutton provides in his book. From a partner loudly discussing the termination of numerous employees on a crowded New York City Subway to a boss who used waterboarding as a method of increasing motivation amongst a sales team, it’s hard to believe that these things actually happen. The good news is that there is ways to change a bad boss into a good one and Sutton gives great advice on techniques to make a bad boss see the error of his actions.

I would definitely suggest this book to anyone who has a bad boss or even if you are a boss yourself in order to see if you really qualify as a bad boss.

You can purchase Good Boss Bad Boss from Amazon!

Thanks to the lovely people over at Hachette Book Group for providing me with a review copy!

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