Overcoming Bad Management Decisions with the Power of Empathy

Apr 24, 2023 | 0 comments

In the first chapter of Mean People Suck, I discuss “The Illusion Point” – the concept that many people think they understand marketing and have great ideas, even when they’re going against the evidence provided by data.

This is especially true in the case of CEOs, who are used to being in charge and telling people what to do. Rising to the rank of CEO demands several years of experience, which means that some of these people have been in marketing a long time. Attaining the position of CEO requires excellent management skills and experience, but not all CEOs are as great as evolving their methods and thinking in such a fast-paced industry.

What this means is that some CEOs are firmly entrenched in the ideas of traditional marketing and can be resistant to change. Furthermore, their desire to direct everyone and be fully in control means that the marketers working under them can easily find themselves being instructed to do unproductive or even counterproductive tasks, wasting both time and money.

Quick Takeaways

  • Companies are losing millions of dollars each year due to inefficiencies in content marketing.
  • Poor management and communication introduce many of these inefficiencies.
  • Whatever level you’re at in your career, you can use the power of empathy to build a better relationship with your boss and work together to achieve company goals.
Image source: Mean People Suck, page 24

We’ve all had the experience of being instructed to do something by our manager or CEO that we know isn’t the best use of our time at work.

This situation often happens when managers insist on directing the steps behind each goal instead of just the goal itself and leaving their employees to find the best path to that goal. This can be incredibly frustrating to employees who (rightly) feel that their ideas are not valued and they’re not trusted to do their jobs properly.

The Illusion point is not only damaging to manager-employee relationships but also wastes companies’ time and money.

In my book, I recall my own experience of this phenomenon at work, when our CEO instructed the marketing team to change the color of the packaging of a new product at the last minute, despite our research showing that another color would be more effective. We ended up losing tens of thousands of dollars and delaying the campaign for weeks, simply to please the CEO.

The Cost of Marketing Inefficiency

I was shocked, and yet at the same time not really surprised, when I found research by Kapost and Gleanster concluding that inefficiencies in content marketing cost B2B companies an estimated $958M each year.

This cost is attributed to companies spending a superfluous $120,000 a year on headcount compared to companies that have optimized their content operations. Additionally, these non-optimized companies have marketing cycle times that are 240% slower and produce 300% less content on average.

The companies surveyed overwhelmingly agreed that managing the overall content process was their biggest challenge.


A shocking 92% of companies also said that their main reason for missing content deadlines was approval delays, and 82% said poor communication between stakeholders was another major reason for delays.


To put it bluntly, bad management and poor communication at director level is the root cause of a lot of this inefficiency. While technology such as automation and a content marketing platform can certainly improve efficiency, it can’t overcome delays caused by bad decisions at C-suite level.

Overcoming The Illusion Point

The report referenced above backs up my own research into B2B companies I’d worked with personally. I discovered over half of the marketing campaigns run by these companies didn’t produce any kind of measurable business results.

So what can organizations do to overcome these inefficiencies caused by poor management?

The answer lies in the employees who are actually tasked with doing this inefficient work. In most cases, the marketers at ground level  know that what they’ve been asked to do is ineffective and likely a waste of time.

The problem is that they’re too used to doing what their managers tell them to without questioning it.

We all want to please our bosses. We hope that this will lead to a good working relationship, recognition, and even perhaps a promotion or raise.

In reality, the work we do doesn’t get results, so we don’t get any thanks for it. All along we knew it wasn’t going to work, so we feel resentful, and the relationship between boss and employee breaks down even further.

The only way to break this cycle is to push back when you know the instructions you’re given from above are misguided.

This is easier said than done, of course. It takes a brave employee to stand up to a senior manager or CEO. But with a little empathy, it’s possible to find common ground and a solution that makes everyone happy.

Using Empathy to Reach Your Mean Boss

Do you have a mean boss who’s making your job and your life difficult? You may feel like throwing in the towel and getting a new job is the only way forward, but I’d like to suggest a different way.

Bosses are people, too. They all have their own pressures, most of which are invisible to their employees. They most likely have their own bosses, who are pushing them to achieve certain results. They’re probably struggling to juggle a high-pressure job with home life, just like you.

If you can step into your boss’s shoes for a moment and try to see the situation from their point of view, you can probably figure out a better way to communicate and work together. After all, you’re all working towards the same goal.

I discuss this in more detail in the book, of course! The fact that so many companies are suffering from inefficiencies caused by poor working relationships and a lack of empathy was one of the major reasons I decided to write it in the first place. I know that if more of us can understand the power of empathy, we’ll enjoy better careers, build more successful companies, and live more fulfilling lives.

So what do you think? Please consider picking up your copy of Mean People Suck today, and get the bonus visual companion guide as well. Or check out our services to help evolve your culture. And I would be thrilled to come present to your team on the power of empathy!


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