I have a bad boss !
Half of all employees claimed that they have quit a job at some point in their careers in order to get away from their bosses, according to a recent Gallup “State of the Global workplace” study. The same survey shows a clear correlation between an employee’s engagement (motivation and effort to achieve goals) and her or his relationship with the boss.
I think we can all relate to this statement, if not, you are the lucky few. To be truly engaged at work we need motivation beyond the paycheck ; that could be a noble ideal, an inspiring company or a charismatic leader. We all want that. Don’t you ?
According to the Gallup poll 77% of employees responded that a positive relationship with their manager was a key factor to their motivation and engagement at work. However, only 13% of respondents said they actually had achieved such a relationship.
Why the relationship with the manager often fails ?
Frequently cited grievances include micromanaging, bullying, avoiding conflict, ducking decisions, stealing credit, shifting blame, hoarding information, failing to listen, setting a poor example, slacking, and not developing staff. Do you recognise yourself in these habits? Do you recognise your manager’s behaviour?
I believe that frequently the manager is not fully aware of the emotional damage these behaviors my cause at a personal level, and overall for the team and the company. After all we are all humans, but the repetition or the intensity of these sins on the long term will make people hate their manager, and maybe their job. An employee’s success is often linked to how well he or she manages the relationship with his or her boss. An ignorant manager will nurture a dysfunctional relationship with his or her team where trust, authenticity and engagement are absent.
Most bad bosses are not inherently bad people ; they are good people with weaknesses that can be exacerbated by pressure to lead and deliver results. What I also observed is that the company’s culture will set guidelines on what to do as a manager (perf reviews, 360 report, etc) but it often skips the important point on what is a good manager ! Too often organisation won’t go beneath the set results (commercial or financial results) and they will consciously ignore the well-being of the driving workforce. “If your results are good, you must be a great manager”. Well, no, not necessarily.
How to deal with a bad boss ?
As I said earlier most people are actually good people who are simply not skilled at the manager’s job. I often have heard managers saying “I got a great promotion and I now manage a team but I realize that people management is the hardest thing I have ever done”.
I actually had colleagues who seemed to be great managers, give up on some jobs because they did not want to manage a team anymore.
Managing people is not easy ! After you got promoted, some of your team members will simply hate you for earning the promotion they also deserved and the other half will be unnaturally kind because now their bonus depends on you. Whom to trust? Who is authentic?
So, no, the job of being a manager is absolutely not easy. They have to report to a management who will put excessive pressure to reach results that are increasingly higher, while motivating a team members who are not looking at the big picture, but rather focusing on their personal achievement.
If you hate your boss, and you are thinking about quitting your job because you think the grass is greener somewhere else, first try to display some empathy. Understand the pressure your manager has to deal with. How would you manage those yourself ?. What would you do differently ? Did you share this with him or her ?
Being a manager is often a very lonely position. You must take decisions all the time and some can have a big impact on the organisation. Don’t you think your manager would be relieved to have feedback and suggestions ? I believe most managers will be receptive to your efforts.
Now if your manager stonewalls or rebuffs you, however it’s a clue that the problem is not you and you need to figure out what, if anything, you can do to alter things.
I strongly believe that an organisation that embraces a culture of giving and receiving feedback will thrive. It must be engraved in the company’s culture for the simple reason that it can only work if people feel safe to do it, without fearing any repercussions. Then the responsibility is mutually shared by all levels in the organisation.
How do you make a feedback culture happen ?
The HR department must train all levels of the company on how to give and more importantly receive feedback. If it’s done in a proper, and timely manner it will be fully beneficial for the entire organisation. Employees must feel empowered to share ideas and give developmental feedback to their hierarchy. Then the responsibility falls on employees as well, to take these opportunities, and work to improve relationships with their boss in a constructive and collaborative way.
To conclude, managing a team is one of the most difficult skills. As my boss at Google used to say, “it comes with mileage”. Appropriate trainings are too often overlooked. But more skilled managers will raise the employee’s engagement and lower the attrition rate. On the employee’s side, before you beef up your CV to find greener grass somewhere else, try to walk in your manager’s shoes and share your concerns and developmental feedback. A company should nurture an open environment, where everyone feels safe to share feedback and most importantly, receive it. This should not be a vague concept but it should be engraved in the company’s DNA.