Magazine article HRMagazine

Abusive Supervisors May Be Overwhelmed

Magazine article HRMagazine

Abusive Supervisors May Be Overwhelmed

Article excerpt

Many studies have proved that setting high goals for employees can produce positive results. But can there be too much of a good thing?

One recent study found that supervi- sors who are given job goals that they believe are exceedingly difficult to attain are more likely to be viewed as abusive supervisors by their subordinates.

"It's one of the first studies to actu- ally put a dark side on goal setting," says lead researcher Mary Mawritz, assistant professor of management at Drexel University. "Literally, about a thousand studies have proven that set- ting specific high goals is good. But not much research has looked at what hap- pens when people perceive the goals are overwhelming."

The researchers surveyed 215 pairs of supervisors and subordinates from organizations in the Northeast and Mid- west regions of the U.S. The respondents worked in industries including finance, insurance, banking, food service, retail, education and health care. Supervisors were asked to assess the difficulty of their job goals, their stress levels, and their anger and anxiety. Subordinates were asked to assess abusive behavior by their supervisors using a 7-point scale. Sample items included "my boss ridicules me" and "my boss tells me my thoughts and feelings are stupid. …

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