A pretty young thing stepped into the office:
“Guess who is the Captain now, girls!” she grinned victoriously, and all four of us stopped in tracks.
It was the day when an 18-year-old candy kid of our top manager became my boss. And the problem wasn’t her age but highhandedness, professional and leadership skills absence, and blame games she played with employees.
It was the day when the apparently wrong person began to control every step of four experienced workers though didn’t have any clear vision of what she wanted from them.
Constant mind changes…
No constructive feedback…
Accusations of dillydallying and incompetence…
And… My demotivation, irritation, and stresses that came as no surprise. Far back in 2011, Merideth J. Ferguson stated in her study at Baylor University:
“Employees who experience such incivility at work bring home the stress, negative emotion and perceived ostracism that results from those experiences, which then affects more than their family life – it also creates problems for the partner’s life at work.”
Oops… Working for the wrong person destroys my happy life and career?
It was the final nail in the coffin, and I realized it was a high time to change that.
But first, I needed to make sure – yeah, even if it seemed obvious – that my 18-year-old lady-boss was that wrong person to deal with. Armed with Bad Bosses, Crazy Coworkers & Other Office Idiots by Vicky Oliver, I’ve compiled 21 attributes of a toxic employer for us to understand if we do with a whip-cracker rather than a smart leader.
Here we go:
Managers do influence productivity and workplace engagement; otherwise, the “people leave managers, not companies” mantra wouldn’t emerge, huh? We all remember that alarm stats from Inc. saying that 75% of employees consider their boss the most stressful part of a job, and I doubt if this number has decreased drastically since then.
So, take a closer look at your manager. Do you see any of these 21 characteristics?
They have neither professional nor leadership skills.
They have fair-headed boys or girls in the team.
They disregard your opinion.
They demotivate you.
They bite your head off.
They lack integrity.
They ignore you.
They are nervous, unable to keep it cool.
They never ask for a feedback from you.
They have no clear vision or business plans.
They want to control your every step.
They make you work hard for low compensation.
They chop and change, blow hot and cold.
They blame others for failures.
They call you on day offs.
They use bullying to “motivate” you.
They think they are always right.
They do not guide you.
They want you to be just like them.
They don’t give you any chance to grow.
No matter how hard you try, your work is never enough for them.
These 21 are not the limit but enough to understand you are working for the wrong person, destroying your work-life balance and nurturing self-doubt as well as the impostor syndrome in you.
I was “lucky” to recognize 14 of 21 in my lady-boss, and the most obvious decision would be to file for voluntary leave. But back then, I decided to try some other tactics.
First, I decided to activate a so-called whatever mode. I knew my job and worked my best, so I continued doing everything the way I found right. Given that my lady-boss wasn’t competent enough to decide if my business ideas did well or harm, she agreed with them.
But considered them her own.
Second, I documented my every completed task. Checking those essays with impressive conclusions at the end of workdays, she couldn’t say anything on my “not hard enough” trying and “too many breaks” to take.
And third, I tried to change the perspective and take a look at my terrible boss as if she was an opportunity rather than a problem. The question I would recommend you to ask is “How can I use the situation to my advantage?”
Consider your poor boss an illustrative example of what you shouldn’t do if want to become a smart manager and a brilliant leader yourself.
Watch how your office mates respond to the boss. You’ll be surprised to find out tons of ideas on sabotaging duties and driving poor managers nuts. (sarcasm)
Learn what the top dogs think of your terrible boss. Don’t they understand he or she is the wrong person to hold the post? Or, maybe they are in it all together, manipulating middle managers and junior specialists?
Take time to understand what the boss has to do to survive. Is that anything you would like to have? Is the game worth the candle? Are you ready to do the same for getting what you want?
Keep an eye on how your boss’s behavior ruins relationships and trust with both employees and customers. Cynical manipulation will never lead to success.
See how much effort they have to use to make something happen their way. Wouldn’t it be wiser to direct that energy to motivation and collaboration rather than manipulation?
The most critical moment to understand:
It’s not your fault they act like this! Do your job, monitor your progress, listen to feedback from colleagues, and judge yourself with an objective mind. Work the best you can, and remember: your boss’s behavior is outside of your control.
Time management and self-organization are your best friends. I’ve got it once I understood my lady-boss couldn’t control any work process at the office. Manage your time, projects, and tasks: it’s the best foundation to build a career. The more organized, the more efficient and productive you’ll be in goals achievement.
Don’t act like your boss. Even when they demonstrate a lack of professionalism, don’t hurry up to respond negatively and have kittens.
Instead, start managing them yourself.
My case: I didn’t wait for the boss to call and give me a task. I set goals, cc’ed her to emails, asked for meetings and feedback. Think two steps ahead, and it will have a positive impact on both business and your self-growth.
Look for mentors outside your company.
Go to seminars and conferences, network with influencers in your field, learn from them, and let them inspire and motivate you. It helped me stay in step with trends in my niche and understand which way to move for professional growth. After all, your boss is not the only person to listen.
You never know when the time comes to leave. Some battles we win, others – we lose. Struggling with wrong people at your workplace, think carefully if you do need it and if your efforts are well spent.
… After six months of working with my lady-boss, all four of us gave our notices. It was that very case when one couldn’t conquer alone. She called us back, tried to convince we would never find the same awesome job, promised to raise wages…
Blah-blah-blah… C’est la vie…
A year later, that business ended up broken.
Don’t let your boss destroy your work-life balance. Instead, train your emotional intelligence while working with the wrong person, avoid the mistakes they make, remember, and develop your professional skills to become a brilliant leader whom others will follow.
Everyone happens for a reason. Wrong people in the office can help us work happy now.
What we need to do is recognize them and try to deal with them for own benefit.