How To Fix Your [Bad] Boss
We all have a story we can tell around a poor leader we were forced to endure. You have one. I have one. Shiela in accounting has three. Bob in marketing has a new one every week, it seems.
The numbers don’t lie.
All the way back in 2008, in the heart of the recession and high unemployment, people were leaving their jobs voluntarily and 75% of them were citing their reason for leaving having something to do with their leader/manager or something their leader/manager influenced.
In 2013, Accenture reported the people who voluntarily left their jobs were because of these reasons:
1) They don’t like their boss (31%),
2) A lack of empowerment (31%),
3) Internal politics (35%) and
4) Lack of recognition (43%).
In 2015, Gallup published a study that HALF of people leave their jobs to get away from bad managers.
A Gallup study of 7,272 U.S. adults revealed that one in two had left their job to get away from their manager to improve their overall life at some point in their career.
And the economic impact (ROLOI: Return on lack of investment) of a company’s conscious choice to not address these issues? Jack Altman covered this beautifully already:
Josh Bersin of Deloitte believes the cost of losing an employee can range from tens of thousands of dollars to 1.5–2.0x the employee’s annual salary. These costs include hiring, onboarding, training, ramp time to peak productivity, the loss of engagement from others due to high turnover, higher business error rates, and general culture impacts.
So, is the question we need an answer to, “is it possible to fix your boss?”
Based on the trend I am seeing in these studies over the last decade, I would say no. It is fairly clear that most companies and leaders are operating from a fixed mindset (Read Dr. Carol Dweck’s book for more on this) and have no intention of actually addressing the root causations of most of these symptoms.
So, what is a new generation of leaders to do?
A wise man was once misquoted: “Be the change you want to see in the world.” Gandhi did not say that. What he ACTUALLY said was:
If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. — Mahatma Gandhi
If you want to find fulfillment at work, help others find fulfillment at work.
If you want to be challenged at work, find ways to positively challenge others at work.
If you want to change your leader’s behavior, act toward them and towards others in the way you want them to act.
This is the hard work of leadership. The truth is that we all want a leader to be better at something. Some have more weaknesses than others, fewer still are intentionally holding their people back. It is easy to point out how to do it better. We all have the skillset of critic mastered.
We want consensus driven leadership while being led, until we become leaders ourselves. Once we get there, we regress into our closed mindset boxes and rely on the authority of our title and the old fashioned processes and procedures of archaic corporate America because it is less work than true leadership.
The truth is that it is hard to lead. So, start practicing now in your daily behaviors. If you can master those behaviors and choices under the thumb of a bad boss, imagine how great of a leader you will become once you get out from under that!? Now imagine how many other current and future leaders you will be able to influence, coach and mentor through the same growth process you went through!? (Book recommendation here: Multipliers by Liz Wiseman)
You can’t fix other people. But, you can change yourself; change how you engage with those around you and how you choose to filter your work life and relationships.
Choose the high road.
Some practical advice: