Actions Speak Louder Than Words: How Hypocritical Leaders Affect Employee Turnover

Publication: Journal of Management
Article: When leaders fail to “walk the talk”: Supervisor undermining and perceptions of leader hypocrisy
Reviewed by: Kayla Weaver


What are the negative organizational effects of hypocritical leaders? Late author Stephen Covey once said, “What you do has far greater impact than what you say.” A recent study (Greenbaum, Bardes, Mawritz, & Piccolo, 2015) shows that these are more than mere words of advice, but rather a warning to managers and organizations about the importance of leaders “walking the talk.”

Effective organizational leaders role-model appropriate workplace behavior; however, some leaders do not always practice what they preach. This increases the possibility that employees will experience negative workplace outcomes. That is, when leaders themselves engage in behavior that subordinates are not supposed to mimic, subordinates may perceive the leader as hypocritical, leading to an increased likelihood of job turnover.


Justice Expectations & Supervisor Undermining

Most organizations have enacted a code of conduct that outlines formal rules for how employees should behave in the workplace. It is also common for organizations to have less formal structures that help inform appropriate work behavior, such as office culture or norms. When supervisors expect employees to show respect and social sensitivity to each other, the supervisor is demonstrating an interpersonal justice expectation.

However, it is possible for a supervisor to expect employees to demonstrate interpersonal justice with one another, even when the supervisor does not exhibit similar behavior. Supervisors who engage in undermining behavior, by definition, do not exhibit interpersonal justice. Examples of supervisor undermining include belittling employees for their ideas, spreading rumors about employees, and putting down employees when they have questions about work procedures. These examples illustrate how supervisor undermining is a form of social injustice, because supervisors are not respecting employees’ ideas nor being socially sensitive to their needs.


Hypocritical Leaders

Supervisor undermining alone can lead to negative outcomes for employees, such as lower job satisfaction and trust, as well as an increase in depression and counterproductive work behavior. Therefore, organizations are encouraged to take proactive measures to ensure that individuals in supervisory roles are not abusing their power by disrespecting their subordinates.

A recent two-part study that utilized both survey and scenario-based designs examined the relationship between justice expectations and supervisor undermining. The results showed that supervisor undermining is especially harmful when supervisors also set an expectation for others to engage in interpersonal justice. That is, when leaders expect others to engage in interpersonal justice, but do not personally engage in these behaviors, they are viewed as hypocritical. Therefore, it is the combination of both supervisor undermining and high expectations for interpersonal justice that results in the perception of leaders as hypocrites.

The second part of the study examined how perceptions of leader hypocrisy affect employees’ turnover intentions. Employees who perceived their leaders to be hypocritical had higher intentions to leave the organization than employees who did not perceive their leader as hypocritical.


Practical Implications

This study has many practical implications for the workplace. First, it is not enough for a supervisor to promote interpersonal justice. Supervisors who have high interpersonal justice expectations but do not align their behavior with these expectations demonstrate to employees that they do not “walk the talk.” In turn, employees who view their leaders as hypocritical may be more motivated to leave the organization, increasing organizational costs associated with recruitment and training.

The authors also suggest that leaders may be unaware of the behavior that contributes to perceptions of “bad” leadership. They may also underestimate the degree to which subordinates look to leaders for example behavior. Therefore, organizations would benefit from monitoring supervisors’ behavior as well as their interpersonal relations with subordinates. Ensuring that leaders are practicing what they preach will yield more positive outcomes for employees, and prevent good employees from leaving organizations.

Assessing idiosyncratic deals (IO Psychology)

Publication: Journal of Management (March 2013)
Article: Let’s make a deal: Development and validation of the ex post I-Deals Scale
Reviewed by: Alexandra Rechlin

When people are being hired or negotiating the terms of their employment, they often make idiosyncratic deals, also known as i-deals. I-deals are informal, nonstandard agreements between the employee and the employer that lead to beneficial outcomes for both parties. For example, they might negotiate compensation or work hours.

In a recent series of studies, Christopher Rosen and his colleagues set out to determine what exactly i-deals are, develop a measure of i-deals, and then establish that measure’s validity.

According to the authors, i-deals have four distinguishing characteristics. They are individually negotiated, heterogeneous (in other words, they’re not the same for everyone), mutually beneficial, and vary in scope. The authors proposed four main dimensions of i-deals: schedule flexibility, location flexibility, financial incentives, and task and work responsibilities. They then developed a measure that can be used to assess to what extent an employee reports negotiating i-deals.

Using the measure that they developed, the authors found that employees with better exchange relationships with their supervisors or who have more political skill are more likely to negotiate i-deals. Schedule flexibility i-deals and task and work responsibilities i-deals were positively related to job commitment and job satisfaction.

As a result of this work, we have a reliable and valid measure to assess i-deals. In addition, we now better understand what i-deals are, what may influence their occurrence, and what they may lead to. I-deals are related to employee satisfaction and commitment, so they are an important part of the negotiation process with employees.

Blurring Work and Non-Work Boundaries: Two Sides to the Story (IO Psychology)

Publication: Journal of Management
Article: The Use of Communication Technologies After Hours: The Role of Work Attitudes and Work-Life Conflict
Reviewed by: Lauren A. Wood, M.S.

The rapid advancement of communication technologies (CTs) in recent years is widely believed to be one of the main drivers behind changes in work. The ease and availability of CTs allows employees unprecedented access to information, people, and most importantly, their work from anywhere and at anytime. While previous generations of workers “stopped the clock” at 5:00pm, many modern employees continue to check-in to work after traditional work hours – leading to blurry work-non-work boundaries. Researchers have predicted both positive and negative outcomes to result from this shift in working hours. Specifically, using CTs to check-in to work after hours, may be a sign of greater commitment to the organization, or high job involvement and ambition on the part of the employee. But, the negative side of greater time spent working is less time for non-work activities possibility resulting in work-family conflict.

Researchers Boswell and Olson-Buchanan were interested in examining the effects of checking-in on work during non-work hours from the perspective of the organization, the employee, and the employee’s spouse. Specifically, they recorded after-hours CT usage, both spouses’ perceptions of work-family conflict, and levels of the employee’s affective organizational commitment to the organization, ambition, and job involvement.

The results showed that highly ambitious employees who are greatly involved in their work are more likely to use CTs for longer time periods after work hours then employees who lack ambition and job involvement. Interestingly, however, employees spending a greater number of hours connecting to work after hours are not more committed to their organizations. Based on this, it seems that highly determined employees (i.e., ambitious and involved) are using CT after hours to “get ahead” rather than because they feel loyal or obligated to the organization.

However, there does seem to be a price to getting ahead by utilizing CTs during non-work hours – employees who spent greater time using CTs to connect to work during traditional “family time” experienced greater levels of work-family conflict as reported by the employee and by the employee’s spouse. Specifically, employee use of CTs after work explained an additional 2% of the variance in work-family conflict from the perspective of the employee and an additional 13% from the perspective of the spouse, suggesting that the employee may not fully realize the negative impact of his/her CT after hours usage from the perspective of his/her spouse.

Taken together, although employees may willingly engage in CT usage after traditional work hours to get ahead, this activity results in negative work-family balance implications from the perspective of the employee and, to a greater extent, from the perspective of the employee’s spouse. Organizations can help employees by discouraging after-hour and weekend email communication. More realistic an option may be to employ family-friendly practices and policies designed to decrease work-family conflict such as flex options or child-care benefits.

Boswell, W. R., & Olson-Buchanan, J. B. (2007). The use of communication technologies after hours: The role of work attitudes and work-life conflict. Journal of Management, 33, 592–610.

Do customers make you mad? You have permission to vent

Publication: Journal of Management (FEB 2013)
Article: Alleviating the burden of emotional labor: The role of social sharing
Authors: McCance, A. S., Nye, C. D., Wang, L., Jones, K. S., & Chiu, C.
Reviewed by: Alexandra Rechlin

imagery_09_11_08_000183If you’ve ever worked in the service industry, you know that some customers can be incredibly frustrating. You get angry, your blood pressure rises, you try really hard to hold your tongue, and then you complain to your coworkers later. And you feel better.

It turns out that venting to your coworkers really does make a difference. In a recent lab study, Silke McCance and her colleagues subjected participants to both neutral and difficult “customers.” Not surprisingly, participants who had to deal with a difficult customer were more likely to be angry and use surface acting (in other words, they hid their true feelings).

Social sharing is just what it sounds like – sharing an experience with others. Three different types of social sharing assessed in this study were the sharing of feelings, facts, and positive experiences. The authors found that all three types of social sharing were beneficial in reducing anger caused by difficult customers. Although anger decreased over time for all participants, those who were able to share their experiences with others showed an even greater decrease in anger.

The results from this study have pretty big implications if you work in the service industry. A lot of companies discourage employees from venting about negative situations with customers, but this study suggests that social sharing is very helpful in dealing with these types of situations. Allow your employees break time to talk about their negative encounters with customers; you’ll be doing your employees, and your company, a favor.

McCance, A. S., Nye, C. D., Wang, L., Jones, K. S., & Chiu, C. (2013). Alleviating the burden of emotional labor: The role of social sharing. Journal of Management, 39, 392-415. doi: 10.1177/0149206310383909

human resource management, organizational industrial psychology, organizational management





source for picture:

When women don’t reach the C-suite as often as men, benevolent sexism may be to blame

Topic: Gender, Discrimination, Development
Publication: Journal of Management (NOV 2012)
Article: Benevolent sexism at work: Gender differences in the distribution of challenging developmental experiences
Authors: King, E. B., Botsford, W., Hebl, M. R., Kazama, S., Dawson, J. F., & Perkins, A.
Reviewed by: Alexandra Rechlin

woman_working_on_laptopWomen are breaking the glass ceiling and entering higher levels of organizations. To be successful, women need to get the same developmental experiences as men, and both men and women seem to be getting about the same number of developmental experiences. But if this is the case, why then are there fewer women than men reaching the very highest levels of the organization?

Eden King and her colleagues recently conducted a series of studies in an attempt to answer this question. They found that although the number of developmental experiences is fairly similar between men and women, the types of experiences differ. Men are given more challenging experiences than women are, and this isn’t because women don’t want more challenging experiences. It’s because managers choose to give more challenging developmental experiences to men.

The findings from these studies seem to occur because some managers are benevolently sexist. For example, they may feel that they need to provide for and protect women, but not that they are any better than women. Men who held these beliefs about women tended to provide fewer challenging developmental opportunities to female subordinates, but men who didn’t hold these beliefs more often gave equally challenging opportunities to male and female subordinates. Women, regardless of their beliefs, also generally gave equally challenging opportunities to male and female subordinates.

These findings suggest that women who want to advance need to seek out challenging developmental experiences, because they may not be getting those experiences otherwise. Organizations need to ensure that both men and women are provided with equally challenging developmental opportunities, and managers must understand that even well-meant attitudes toward women may actually be discriminatory.

King, E. B., Botsford, W., Hebl, M. R., Kazama, S., Dawson, J. F., & Perkins, A. (2012). Benevolent sexism at work: Gender differences in the distribution of challenging developmental experiences. Journal of Management, 38, 1835-1866. doi: 10.1177/0149206310365902

human resource management, organizational industrial psychology, organizational management




source for picture:

Whistle While You Work: The Importance of Work Enjoyment for Managers (Human Resource Management)

Topic: Motivation, Performance, Wellness
Publication: Journal of Management (SEP 2012)
Article: Driven to Work and Enjoyment of Work: Effects on Managers’ Outcomes
Authors: Laura Graves, Marian Ruderman, Patricia Ohlott, & Todd Weber
Reviewed By: Thaddeus Rada

Work motivation, a topic that is relevant to almost all employees in almost every organization, is a common research area in IO psychology. Within the vast motivation literature, two types of motivation that have emerged in recent years are the driven to work and enjoyment of work motives. The driven to work motive is based on the feeling that a person should work (they feel compelled to), while the enjoyment of work motive emphasizes intrinsic motivation and personal enjoyment of the work itself. Recently, Graves and colleagues conducted a study to identify the role that these two types of motivation might have on managers’ performance, career satisfaction, and psychological strain.

Using a sample of over 300 managers, Graves and colleagues found that, while the driven to work motive did not seem to be substantially related to the outcomes in question, the enjoyment of work motive was related to the outcomes. Specifically, managers who reported higher levels of work enjoyment were also likely to have higher levels of job performance and career satisfaction, and lower levels of psychological strain, than managers who reported lower levels of work enjoyment.

Based on these results, it appears that the enjoyment of work motive is an effective and desirable motive to cultivate in managers. Fortunately, this motive may be emphasized in a variety of ways, including training, personnel selection, and through a company’s culture; doing so may result in a number of positive outcomes for managers (and, by conjunction, some positive outcomes for managers’ employees as well).

Graves, L.M., Ruderman, M.N., Ohlott, P.J., & Weber, T.J. (2012). Driven to work and enjoyment of work: Effects on managers’ outcomes. Journal of Management, 38, 1655-1680.

human resource management, organizational industrial psychology, organizational management



source for picture:

A Crash Course in Adopting New Technology—It’s All About The Bandwagon

Topic: Business Strategy, Off the Wall
Publication: Journal of Management
Article: Closing the Technology Adoption–Use Divide: The Role of Contiguous User Bandwagon
Authors: G. Lanzolla & F. F. Suarez
Reviewed By: Katie Bachman

Did you ever buy something that was really expensive, but you could sort of justify the purchase because you were so sure you’d use it every single day and it would save you time and money? Come on, we all have. But, did your purchase end up sitting on a shelf somewhere? Well, if it was some new, cool technology for your organization that you purchased, then chances are actually pretty good that it did. A ridiculously large portion of new technology adopted by organizations never gets used by the employees. But, why? Here’s where I am going to totally rock your world—just because you invest in a new piece of technology, doesn’t mean you’ll use it.

Let’s take a step back and I’ll explain why buying and using are not always related. It starts with those people in the organization who buy and those who use—adopters and users, respectively. The adopters, usually the upper-level management in an organization or those in charge of putting new policies or technologies in place, are drawn to new technology because of hype in the press, word of mouth, or mimicking their competitors’ behaviors. The users, on the other hand, are not taken in so easily. They want to know that a new technology is going to work before they spend time using it. So what makes them want to use a new technology? Apparently, users are more likely to implement a new technology quickly when they see the value in it based on other users’ success. This is what we call the contiguous user bandwagon. They hop on the bandwagon when they see a technology has worked for others in their similar situation.

What do you do to match the adopters and users so that your technology rolls out quickly? Pay attention to the bandwagon, not the advertising. Getting buy-in from the people who will actually use your technology is the only way to make sure that it is implemented quickly.

Lanzolla, G., & Suarez, F. F. (2012). Closing the technology adoption–use divide: The role of the contiguous user bandwagon. Journal of Management, 38, 836-859. doi: 10.1177/0149206310369938.

human resource management, organizational industrial psychology, organizational management



source for picture:

Need Ethics? Here, Take Mine (IO Psychology)

Topic: Ethics
Publication: Journal of Management (2012)
Article: The psychic cost of doing wrong: Ethical conflict, divestiture socialization, and emotional exhaustion
Authors: Kammeyer-Mueller, J. D., Simon, L. S., & Rich, B. L.
Reviewed By: Katie Bachman

It’s sweet, albeit naïve, to think that the ethical training we learned in pursuit of a degree or on the job during seemingly endless training sessions will do the trick. We will always be upstanding corporate citizens, ready to fight evil. But that’s not really what happens. It’s all well and good to make your employees take ethics training, but what about when their supervisor or even the organizational culture pushes them to break their ethical rules? Sure, we have a moral dilemma, but it goes deeper than that. Ethical lapses have an effect on the employees who make or see them.

In a study of new lawyers (you can insert your own lawyer joke here), researchers examined the impact of ethical conflict on emotional exhaustion and feelings of fulfillment. In terms of establishing ethical conflict, they looked at a particular kind of organizational socialization—divestment. This is the type of socialization that encourages new employees to drop their own ideals and intuitions and adapt to what the organization believes. It’s the drop-that-hold-this approach to socializing. So, employees who come into an organization with wide eyes and high standards of ethics are now bombarded with the real world, or at least the real world as the organization sees it. If the employee’s belief system doesn’t jive with the organization’s, the new employee has to change to fit. If the change in beliefs has to do with professional ethics, that’s were we see this ethical conflict. Take it another step further and we find that the ethical conflict can be particularly draining for new employees. They have to deal with situations that they know are unethical and that takes a toll. They’re also less fulfilled as employees, because, hey, they’re in the business of doing wrong. Would you be happy about that?

Unless your organization is on a quest to bring down James Bond or uses words like “nefarious” in its mission statement, you’re probably interested in decreasing instances of unethical behavior. After all, ethical lapses on the part of organization lead to less fulfilled, more exhausted employees. The key here is to change the culture before it changes the people. Those individuals suffering that ethical conflict—those are the good ones. Keep them in their angelic condition by instituting policies that encourage ethics (training, whistle-blower protection, etc.). Ethical lapses happen, but not in your company.


Kammeyer-Mueller, J. D., Simon, L. S., & Rich, B. L. (2012). The Psychic cost of doing wrong: Ethical conflict, divestiture socialization, and emotional exhaustion. Journal of Management, 38, 784-808.

human resource management, organizational industrial psychology, organizational management



source for picture:

Mixed Messages: Gender Differences in Performance and Promotability Ratings (IO Psychology)

Topic: Gender, Performance Appraisal
Publication: Journal of Management (MAR 2012)
Article: A Meta-Analysis of Gender Group Differences for Measures of Job Performance in Field Studies
Authors: Roth, P. L., Purvis, K. L., & Bobko, P.
Reviewed By: Thaddeus Rada

In human resource management, we are often concerned with group-based differences in the measurement of performance, satisfaction, and other variables (for legal and ethical reasons). Previous meta-analytic studies (studies that look at data/findings across multiple studies) have examined the role of certain group characteristics, such as ethnicity, on performance, but gender differences have not been studied as frequently. In addition, as the authors of the current article note, previous meta-analyses that have assessed gender differences in performance have generally utilized various proxies for performance (e.g., absenteeism, satisfaction ) rather than actual performance measures (e.g., supervisor ratings). The goal, then, of this meta-analysis, was to examine gender differences on these realistic performance indices in field samples.

Meta-analyzing a total of 61 employee samples (rather than college student samples), the authors concluded that, on the average, there appears to be a great deal of similarity between levels of performance for males and females. Despite this conclusion, the authors also found support for their hypothesis that males generally receive slightly higher promotability ratings. The authors’ conclusions about gender differences in performance and promotability point out a potential management paradox in the following sense: although small, performance differences seem to suggest that females are better performers, yet they appear to be rated slightly lower on promotability compared to males.

Roth et al. suggest a number of future research directions to assist in increasing our understanding of this phenomenon, including studies of other types of job performance (such as work samples) and additional research on the influence of gender on promotability ratings in general (Roth and colleagues only identified eight such studies to include in the current meta-analysis). It will be useful to continue conducting such research in field settings, as the studies included in this meta-analysis did; as such, this may be a prime opportunity for academic-practitioner collaboration in IO psychology.

Roth, P. L., Purvis, K. L., & Bobko, P. (2012). A meta-analysis of gender group differences for measures of job performance in field studies. Journal of Management, 38, 719-739.

human resource management, organizational industrial psychology, organizational management



source for picture:

Motivating GenY: Generational Differences in Work Values

Topic: Motivation
Publication: Journal of Management (SEP 2010)
Article: Generational differences in work values: Leisure and extrinsic values increasing, social and intrinsic values decreasing
Authors: J. M. Twenge, S. M. Campbell, B. J. Hoffman, and C. E. Lance
Reviewed By: Lauren Wood

The U.S. workforce is primarily comprised of 3 generations of workers – Baby Boomers (born between 1946-1964), GenX (1965-1981), and GenY (1982-1999). Although empirical research examining differences in generational work values is scarce, understanding differences between these 3 groups is important for organizations attempting to recruit and manage the youngest generation in the workforce – GenY.

The current study assessed generational differences in work values (leisure, social interactions, intrinsic rewards, extrinsic rewards, and altruism) which motivate employees to perform on the job. The results reveal that organizations may need to implement different strategies in order to successfully motivate GenY employees. For example, compared to Baby Boomers and GenX, GenY workers are more likely to value leisure activities (time off, work-life balance, flextime) and less likely to value social interactions (work friendships, team work). When examining workplace rewards, GenY seem to be are more motivated by extrinsic rewards (tangible rewards) than by intrinsic rewards (intangible rewards).