Employee Experience

CEOs – Are You Rewarding Good Employees with Bad Bosses?

2 February 2024



A few months back, a frustrated employee asked me, “Why do they feel it’s okay to give me a bad manager?” 

Isn’t that a compelling question?  

As leaders, we have high expectations of employees. But how consciously do we think about the culture we create for them by appointing people to management positions they’re not equipped for? And how willing are we to address the unhappiness they cause, especially when they’re otherwise getting results? 

I’m introducing a #ceopledge to our executive coaching curriculum this year. The idea comes from a post by BrettFox, whose fabulous (abbreviated) example is as follows.  

I, your CEO, pledge to: 

1. Be fair.

I know it’s annoying when someone gets preferential treatment. Due to different perspectives or even different conditions, it might not always be possible (or desirable) to always treat everyone exactly the same way. But I will do everything I can to be fair. 

2. Be transparent.

You have a right to know what’s happening in the company because you depend on us for your livelihood. I will tell you everything (except the stuff that, for lots of reasons, has to remain confidential). 

3. Provide a healthy workplace.

A bad work environment steeped in fear doesn’t allow you or us to thrive. We want the workplace to be an enjoyable place to be. (This doesn’t mean we don’t have high expectations for you, too.) 

4. Not allow mediocrity into the organization.

Our standards are really high, that’s why we enjoy working with you. It’s demoralizing working with people that aren’t carrying their weight. I will address non-performance when I see it. 

5. Give you the freedom to be creative.

I know you have ideas for improving the company, new products, and new systems. I will ensure you are heard. 

6. Continue teaching and training you.

We have an obligation to you and our company to give you the tools to succeed. We need you to have the skills necessary to help us grow. 

7. Pay you a fair wage.

We understand we need to be competitive to retain you. We don’t want you looking for a new job. It’s costly to replace great people like you. We also pledge to rectify any salary inequities that occur. 

8. Promote from within whenever possible.

You’re ambitious, and you want to continue growing. We know you and like working with you. There’s nothing more gratifying than being able to promote you.  

9. Not to tolerate jerks.

Yes, we know about the really smart person you are working with. He’s brilliant, but he’s causing great harm to the company despite all his skills. We know that, and we’ll address it.