The Great Morale Dampener

All work, no recognition makes Jack a dull boy

This variation on the old proverb should be made a workplace motto. My recent Psychology Today article deals with a bad boss trait that at first glance seems relatively innocuous, more a nuisance that a threat – bragging. Well, if one just self-promotes by exaggerating one’s own achievements, or constantly faces off with his management peers arguing about whose department performs better, it’s truly not the end of the world. If it’s a persistent tendency, employees could find it annoying and it may even cause their respect for the boss drop a few notches, but it’s hardly something they would loose their sleep over.

But it’s a whole different bedtime story, one with a potential of giving them nightmares, when their boss is using their achievements to promote himself, without sharing any credit. Recognition of success, by higher-ups as well as peers, is a benchmark of moving ahead, it’s what promotions are made of; being deprived of that could feel like a dead end. Finding oneself in that dispiriting situation can rob employees of any motivation, turning them into office zombies, immune to any inspirational efforts. It can even force some to quit.

In the article I offer employees recommendations on how they can help their boss follow another well-known proverb: Give credit where credit is due.

For more on workplace behavior I’d also recommend the recent article Have a Bad Boss? Treat Him Like a Toddler, by Cindy Perman. It revisits some other bad boss traits that can potentially create tension in the workplace and shows how manage the situation.