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October 16, 2012

Difficult Boss is a HR loss

‘People don’t leave the companies, they leave their bosses.


Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman


The ‘Hari Sadu’ ad by Naukri.com touched our hearts. It indeed hit the bull’s eye. The thought of being able to dish out such delectable remarks for that devious soul which seems to have overtaken our life, lifts our hearts. Most of us have had the good fortune (pun intended) of meeting such characters in our professional life. Maybe not be as ‘Sadu’ but the experience has left a bitter taste in the mouth.


In real life the situation might not be as comic; it is a serious concern and an HR nightmare. Imagine scouring the almost empty heavy bottomed pot to find that perfect talent. The effort that goes in engaging that talent into employment related conversation, making him take the various rounds of selection and then giving him the offer letter with a gleam of hope. Only to realize that the organization has to sacrifice this ‘Bakra’ to feed the mammoth ego of the manager.


Over the years most of the organizations that I have come across have had this character in their troop playing an important role. The organization might or might not be aware of the extent to which the working style of this manager is hurting the organizational fabric. And often the manager would have had a good performance report card to escape the HR clutches.


What really makes these bosses difficult to work with? In some cases it is the arrogance, sometimes the expectation of the boss to have the subordinate at their beck and call 24x7. And sometimes just the urge to be in control. Based on a study conducted by a renowned University following are some of the reasons:



  • Supervisors do not keep their promises.

  • Credit and Recognition do not come easily they would rather take credit and put blame.

  • They invade your privacy overtaking your time and life.

  • Inappropriate disciplinary measures take preference over positive communication.

  • Constructive feedback from subordinates hits the brick wall.


What role does the HR play here without hurting the bottom-line of the company? We cannot continue ignoring the culture of fear and mistrust, high attrition rates, and low employee morale. But then rooting the difficult manager out is not a likely solution either. My two cents on this would be:


As an HR responsible for the talent management, we would need to create a culture of transparency and openness. HR can foster strong relationship amongst the colleagues which helps the troubled souls share their pain and wade the difficult times. The performance review machinery would need to run on objective tools rather than on subjective. By no means should HR give partial treatment to anyone but should be open to lending an ear. Be empathetic and not just wait for an official complaint. The Human Resource team can organize for adequate and appropriate trainings to fine tune the skill sets of the employee; this can help them in contributing in a greater way to the projects assigned. And the best one for the last is, make the difficult manager see the ‘human side’ of management coz sometimes the manager is blissfully unaware of him being categorized as difficult.


Difficult Bosses are an ugly truth and HR has to handle the situation with utmost care. Talent is a scarce resource; we as HR professional understand the work and effort it takes to find one. No way can we continue turning a blind eye to the greatest reason behind attrition. The devil is the ‘Difficult Boss’ phenomenon and until we take responsibility, at the end it would be a ‘HR Loss’.

Tags : Difficult boss, tough boss, organizational loss, employee and the boss, tackling difficult boss

About Nivedita

Nivedita has almost six years of experience in the HR domain. In her current role with an IT company, she manages the talent acquisition and talent management initiatives of the organization. She has been honored a Master’s degree in Business Administration with a specialization in Human Resources. She began her career in 2005 and has been working in the different domains of Human Resources ever since.