Consistent jerk or loose cannon as boss? Guess who gets the most vote

  • ANI, Washington D.C
  • Updated: Mar 02, 2016 19:07 IST
Study results suggest that employees whose superiors are consistently unfair are actually less stressed and more satisfied with their job than employees with an erratic boss. (Shutterstock)

A new study has revealed that when it comes to the nature of a boss, workers prefer a consistent jerk to a loose cannon. The Michigan State University study suggests employees, whose superior is consistently unfair, are actually less stressed and more satisfied with their job than employees with an erratic boss.

The study included both a lab experiment in which participants’ heart rates were monitored for stress levels and a separate field study of workers and supervisors from 95 employers representing a host of industries. Lead author Fadel Matta said that the findings essentially show that employees are better off if their boss is a consistent jerk rather than being a loose cannon who’s fair at times and unfair at other times. They found that inconsistent treatment is much more stressful than being treated poorly all the time.

Why is this the case? Brent Scott, MSU associate professor of management and study co-author, said people appear to value consistency and predictability in fair treatment as much or more than fair treatment itself.

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“Let’s not lose sight of the fact that the best outcomes for employees occurred when their supervisors were consistently fair,” said Scott. “However, if supervisors are going to be unfair, the results suggest that they would be better off behaving that way all of the time.”

Prioritising self-discipline, focus and careful thinking could help deliver leaders, who are not just fair some of the time, but who are instead fair almost all of the time, the study concluded. The study appears online in the Academy of Management Journal.

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