I read an article that had the title The Era of the Jerk Manager is over. I too believe we are seeing such a transition. The reasons given by Scott Nelson, however, did not include the one that I feel will be the primary driver of this phenomenon.
Nelson said he saw employee empowerment as the primary driver of getting rid of the jerk manager. He said:
Today, employee empowerment is weeding out the jerk manager. This is with help from the organization, or despite it. Movements like #MeToo and a millennial generation with an appetite for civility and activism are giving employers every incentive to prevent, amend or remove jerk managers.
To help companies with this process Nelson provided six tips for companies. These include:
- Organizations must have 360-degree reviews of managers that allow for anonymity. This is a key way to surface problems, but only works if employees feel their confidentiality is truly protected
- Automated hotline systems can be extremely useful. This is most effective when organizations calibrate their intake to surface reports that indicate reoccurring incivility and situations of disrespect
- Employees should also have regular check-ins from managers who aren’t their immediate supervisors
- When jerk-manager allegations arise, they need to be investigated and addressed as necessary. It’s possible that routine bad behavior from managers will be revealed, leading to a decision to part ways with the manager for the good of the organization
- The organization’s leadership should create a vision statement attesting to their commitment to a good work environment. This is part of a comprehensive code of conduct
- It’s also essential to train managers at all levels about proper behavior with supervisees
There is one other aspect of this jerk manager removal that Nelson did not mention.
Online rating sites
I have written a couple of times about the rise of online rating sites like Glassdoor and Ratedly. Under the concept of rateocracy more and more employees are taking to the Internet and rating companies, including managers and fellow employees. Although rating the company is the larger occurrence, people rating managers is also a growing phenomenon. If employees are consistently rating a manager as a poor manager the company will be forced to deal with that manager. As the #MeToo movement has shown to the power of these public ratings is significant. Companies are forced to take action or suffer the consequences.
Of course, there is a downside to this as well. Younger managers may get labeled as jerks early in their careers before they have learned, a label which may then haunt them forever since once on the internet always on the internet. Future employers will have to deal with that information much the same way the EEOC suggests we deal with other background check information, on a case-by-case consideration.