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Sunday, June 8, 2014

Who is the Boss of You?

The mantra “employees quit managers … not companies” has traction, no doubt because there is some truth to it but it may not represent the entire story. Let me suggest the idea that “employees quit non-supportive workplace environments!”

Bad bosses are often the face of those environments and a significant contributor to the turmoil simply because of their authority over and proximity to the employee. But even good managers can only do so much to mitigate the negative impact of a non-supportive work environment on the employees due to other factors outside of their control. Therefore, a good manager may not be enough to make some employees want to stay.

Unfortunately, many employees find themselves running from one non-supportive environment to the next in the same way as some people chase dysfunctional relationships. They do so, unfortunately, because that is where they are most comfortable. As one reader of our book “Don’t Run Naked Through The Office” stated, "If I had come across this book several years ago, I have no doubt it would have saved me from repeating the same mistakes as I moved from job to job hoping that things would get better simply by changing the address of my workplace.”

Many employees believe their only options are quitting or waiting in the hope that they will get a new boss. Until individuals develop the ability to recognize the four types of workplace environments and how to navigate the challenges of each, they are prone to repeat this error again and again. The truth is there are far more non-supportive workplaces than supportive ones and far more bad bosses than good managers.

Self-managed professionals have the best chance of surviving in any workplace environment and often have the latitude to depart for a more supportive environment on their terms not as a knee jerk reaction to a bad boss. A self-managed individual acts in a professional manner to provide guidance, access to resources, and support for her activities in overcoming obstacles to her productivity.

This is the same definition we use in “Don’t Run Naked Through The Office” to define a good manager. So in other words, if you have a bad boss, you have to be your own manager!

You have to manage your professional development, you have to assess your risk, and you have to prioritize your activities. You have to do it all because your boss is not your friend, your ally, your supporter or even a leader worthy of your allegiance.

In spite of the dysfunctional behaviors your boss displays, you are there to perform a job in the most productive manner you can. This surfaces the idea of situational performance which will be addressed in a future posting. Having a bad boss doesn’t give you a free pass to shirk the responsibilities you assumed when you accepted your job.

The bottom line is that if you work in a non-supportive workplace environment, you have to know how to successfully navigate the challenges of that environment while retaining your sanity. This means you have to be your own manager; otherwise, YOU ARE RUNNING NAKED THROUGH THE OFFICE!
Fred Stawitz
Coauthor of Don’t Run Naked Through The Office

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