What’s wrong with bosses? I’ve heard the question asked in many different ways. How can they be so clueless or manipulative or thoughtless or controlling or easily influenced by the wrong people or downright mean … or just plain stupid?
Over the years, I’ve written a lot about bosses … especially about the most annoying ones. Just some of the basic underlying weaknesses:
- No idea how to manage people.
- Busy trying to do everyone else’s work.
- Don’t know how to trust. Or trust too easily.
- Mind is elsewhere, such as hobbies, personal things, or areas of work that matter least.
- No idea how to delegate well. Or they delegate so much they have no idea what’s really going on.
- And some are oblivious to the very real human needs of their staff — needs that can increase productivity and retention far more than a new work process or “motivational” goal.
And here are some previous posts about our … uh … less wonderful bosses if you’re curious. (Scroll down for more … including the role WE may play in all of it.)
Bosses are people too
Even good bosses can drive us crazy at times. So why is it so hard to find a truly wonderful boss? Over the years, I’ve had a few what I consider great ones. And more than a few intolerable ones, although I later learned the role I played in ramping up the volume for some of that. But most of my bosses were somewhere in the middle.
And the reason is simple: bosses are people too. Ok. I know that’s not shocking, but sometimes easy to forget. They bring with them all the same kinds of human insecurities and longtime habits. And how we handle that can sometimes make the difference between a good job and one we can’t wait to get rid of.
Our part in what’s wrong with bosses
So much of how we feel about a boss centers around our own expectations … plus our attitude when encountering less than we’d ideally like to see. If you’re looking for perfection, it ain’t gonna happen. But if you’re looking for flaws, you’re going to find them aplenty!
So, when you get right down to it, some of it is definitely about who they are as people and their managerial abilities. And not all bosses are keepers, no matter how hard you try to make it work. Bully bosses for example … or a boss who is truly abusive in any way.
But some of it is about US and what we bring to the situation each and every day. Even the way we set up the relationship from the beginning in some instances. Case in point, not that this applies to all situations:
I once worked for a woman who expected everyone to call her Mrs. Rutherford (not her real name) rather than her given first name, Sara. But I sensed that using “Mrs.” would set up an uneven relationship between us that would get in the way of the critical job I needed to do — help the non-profit organization survive.
And although the rest of the staff warned me that it would not go over well, I gently eased into calling her by her first name. … in a way that showed respect for both her and me. And I managed to help turn the organization’s finances around. Plus, we became lifelong friends.
Starting off on the right footing
Not suggesting how I handled my time working for Sara would work for all of you. But how you relate to your boss from day one matters big time. As does how you present yourself in that relationship, since feeling small can lead to feeling underappreciated or worse.
Starting off on the right footing — and building a respect-trust relationship — can go a long way toward laying the foundation for your time there. Including how comfortable (and forgiving) you feel even when your boss does something to drive you crazy.
So what’s wrong with bosses often starts with us. No … not who they are as people. We can’t control how they behave, lord knows. But we can learn ways to help how our brains at work take in their behaviors and decisions. And then, once our emotions aren’t running away with things, we can figure out how to react … or when to just get on with the job.