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Posts Tagged ‘bosses’

Addrox @ Flickr

Photo Credit: Addrox @ Flickr

Going to work can feel like you’re going to your parent’s house. And, if your parents get on your nerves, this can be annoying.

You deal with fussy bosses (your parents), co-workers  who get away with murder (your siblings) and the occasional guilt-tripping that comes when attending office meetings (family gatherings and holiday parties).

So, sometimes, I can’t help but feel like I’m a kid all over again when I’m at work. I have to prove that I’m “grown up” to my bosses, despite the fact that they know that anyway.

People have to get over the teasing that gets bestowed upon them when they make mistakes or look stupid. It can be merciless. 

You get nagged.

You’re watched. 

And then, out of nowhere, you get dressed down for stuff you don’t remember doing or happened so long ago, it just seems silly to bring it up now.

You think you are in a professional environment, but then your coworker laughs at his own joke verging somewhere between toilet humor and Chris Farley slapstick.

Roles get reversed too. You end up playing mommy to your 4 year old boss. But, the only difference is that the 4-year old gets the credit and you get the boot. Or, a grade of “mediocre performance” on your once a year employee evaluation.

So, how are people surviving this perpetual “childhood” at work?  For the next week, I’m going to examine the following  themes (in no particular order):

Proving your Independence

Ahhh, the teen years. You’ve got the license to drive, but Mom and Dad (or, better yet, your boss) just won’t let you drive – anywhere. How can you convince them to let up?

Middle Child Syndrome

You’re ignored. At least, you think you are. It seems like no matter what, you aren’t doing enough to get your boss’s attention. What gives?

Oooooh, you’re in trouble: Dealing with Mistakes

A favorite phrase of the corporati – CYA (cover your ass). But, getting in trouble for mistakes is so passe – do you want creativity or people who only do things “right”?

Role Reversal

Who’s really managing the department – and why aren’t they paying you the money to do it?

Am I missing any? Probably. Maybe you should tell me and I’ll add them to my list.

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Kumar Appaiah

Photo Credit: Kumar Appaiah @ Flickr

Good bosses by typical, static definitions don’t exist. Young professionals tend to link Good Boss criteria with traits that have nothing to do with being an effective manager.

Therefore, a disconnect appears between the invented definition and the reality of what makes a Good Boss. Such invented criteria can be be difficult to solidify.

Someone who knows how to communicate with me

That’s a tall order. Whether you believe it or not, knowing how to communicate with someone and communicating well are two different things. One implies talents using ESP and the other involves insight, active listening and learning within a relationship . 

In short, a good connection doesn’t happen overnight (if at all) when a “good boss” hires you. Expect to a build a relationship first, then (perhaps) you’ll reap the benefits of someone who communicates well with you.

Also, good communication is reciprocal. Keep that in mind the next time you complain that your boss doesn’t “get” you.

Reality: I want someone who will listen to what I have to say and give me appropriate, thoughtful feedback

Someone who trusts me to do my job

If left to your own devices, what would you really do? There’s a difference between a boss trusting you to do your job and trusting you to do your job well. In truth, you don’t want someone micromanaging your every move. If, however, you want to be trusted to do your job (and only your job), it implies you want to be left alone. In that case, you probably don’t need a boss.

But, that’s why entrepreneurship exists.

Your boss is there for guidance and instruction. They can’t trust that you will know all the answers, that’s why they exist.

Reality: I want someone who is available when I need them and can give me constructive, effective direction when I have questions

Someone who knows what they want

That’s vague. Bosses, like you, are subject to the ever changing trends and decisions of a company. Also, expecting someone to be perfectly in tune with the whims of a business is naive. Someone who knows what they want is not going to be good – they’re going to be crazy.

After all, a boss knowing what they want doesn’t necessarily mean they know what they want for the company (or what’s best for it, either).

Reality: I want someone who can navigate the company/department with enough aplomb and flexibilty so that I don’t get confused about what they need from me as an employee

Someone who will give me good work

This is not good boss criteria – this is (good) job criteria. You’ll be surprised at how many interesting, challenging projects float over people’s heads because they simply didn’t ask for them. It’s not your boss’s job to keep you professionally stimulated or motivated.

God bless ’em if they try it though.

Managers don’t get paid to read your mind. So, if you want something – speak up for it! All a manager can do is provide access (or, let’s hope they can). Therefore, let’s not assume that if you are unchallenged in your job, it’s because you have a crappy boss. You just might have a crappy job.

Reality: I want someone who encourages professional development and will provide access to challenging work

What do you think? Is there a disconnect between what a good boss really is and what people say they want?

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For those of you new (or not so new) to the working world please take a look through my office guide. While I will generally agree that stereotyping is bad, I don’t think it does too much harm when we are just including our office pals.

The Traditionalist

No, Traditionalists are not necessarily Republicans. But all Traditionalists like the status quo. Surprisingly, these puzzling creatures are extremely hard workers. Unfortunately, however, they are also the most inefficient. This is due to the fact that they hang on to outmoded ways of handling projects or any sort of office work. 

Traditionalists insist on doing things their way (because no other way could possibly work). If someone offers up an alternative (better) way of doing things, The Traditionalist will serve up a myriad of excuses as to why it can’t, shouldn’t or wouldn’t be done.

Or, to feign solidarity, may openly agree that “Oh, that’s a great idea – we should do it!” only to procrastinate implementing the initiative and never doing it at all.  The Traditionalist lives by the literal code, “If it ain’t broke – why fix it?”

The Traditionalist could also be called a control freak because of their extreme reluctance to do things in new ways (and fervent obsession to control how others get work done as well), but there’s no reason to start calling your co-workers freaks, now is there?

The Techno-phobe

These odd creatures tend to crop up in your less tech savvy co-workers. Usually (but not always) they may be people who still refer to computers and anything electronic as “those things.” They are the type of individual that will forward you a document and ask “Can you paginate this proposal for me?” or “Please turn it into a pdf – thanks!”

The simplest tech procedure is lost on them. Sometimes, techno-phobes realize the silliness of their requests and say things like, “Oh, maybe you can teach me to do that sometime.” What this really means is, “I actually have no interest in learning how to operate my computer, so as long as you are here, you can do it for me.”

Techno-phobes, like traditionalists, are very hard workers. However, in terms of becoming techno self-sufficient (like learning how to insert page numbers into a document) they believe as long as other people know how to do it – why should they learn?

The Fuss Budget (bka The Complainer)

Now and then, everyone channels their inner-complainer.  Yet, The Complainer, makes voicing dissatisfaction his/her life’s mission. To them, belly-aching is a finely tuned art that must be practiced at every waking moment. Such individuals find ways to gripe about everything -big and small- at the sake of merely having their voice heard.

Unfortuantely, whiny expostulation is actually The Complainer’s way of properly communicating with their fellow colleagues. These poor creatures have been socialized to think that the best way to voice opinions, concerns or even good ideas is through haphazard grouching and beyond.

*Note: Complainers are usually the last to know about any office parties, get togethers or celebrations. Avoid at all costs.*

The Gossip

Gossips are a little obvious. Actually, they can’t help themselves. They feed off information like bees to honey. However, whatever comes out of their mouth is nowhere near as sweet.

The only thing about Gossips that’s so mind-boggling is the amazing network of people in which they come into contact. Instead of using their “gift of gab” for positive gains, they spread rumor and innuendo like poison.

Now, don’t get me wrong, if Gossips were horrible, terrible people – they wouldn’t have anyone to talk to!

Gossips are (somewhat) amiable extroverts – they have an innate talent of extracting information from people whether intentionally given or not. Gossips can also be extremely discerning people, they may only give certain information to certain kinds of people or be a complete big mouth. It just depends on the day of the week. 

You can usually tell a Gossip by the number of cronies hovering around his/her desk. If people skulk away the minute you approach them – take heed, you were most likely the subject of speculation on their juicy gossip plate.

The Snooper

These beasts have mastered the martial art of sneaking (unheard) upon the enemy. You, unfortunately, are the enemy and The Snooper has no qualms about trying to snoop into your life – personal or professional.

They will stand behind you silently for a few moments before announcing themselves (if they ever do) while you are working on your computer, stand by your desk while you are on a (personal or important) phone call or ask you slightly to completely inappropriate questions (sometimes, even in front of other co-workers).

Snoopers have no boundaries, that is a foreign concept to them. Everyone is game – sometimes Snoopers have this ability in conjunction with another creature habit (see The Gossip).

Newbie Boss

This creature can be an ally or your worst nightmare come true in a cubicle – a professional wildcard, really. A Newbie Boss is usually under a lot of pressure to perform well because they internally set a performance bar that may not be realistic.

Newbie Bosses want to prove to the higher-ups that promoted them that the right choice was made. And, (only sometimes) a Newbie Boss remains narrowly focused on proving that idea. There is absolutely nothing wrong this, but sometimes Newbie Bosses can be a tad misguided.  

Working with such an individual can mean a few things for the lucky (or unlucky) underlings that are put into his/her charge. If you are under utilized or somewhat of an average performer, your Newbie Boss will look to either:

  • Fire you
  • Keep you around until s/he can figure out a way to fire you
  • Develop ways in which to improve his/her team’s performance and workplace contributions and effectively develop his/her employee’s professional skills.

Obviously, everyone should want the third option, but please, realize you are equally subject to the top two as well. If you are a great employee (see The Star), then you have nothing to worry about- and you will definitely know this- unless your Newbie Boss morphs into the most evil and vile creature of all (see The Backstabber)

The Backstabber

It’s hard to point out a Backstabber. These creatures can lie dormant in any career-minded person. Sometimes The Backstabber can start out as the The Star, The Maverick or even The Intern.

However, one thing in common with all Backstabbers is a sudden change in career priority and a severe drop in self-confidence. These two key culprits are the leading cause of stab wounds, enduring bitterness and loss of career trajectory in over 75% of the workplace population.

Surprisingly enough, Backstabbers have relatively simple goals: they want acknowledgement, reassurance and security. Whether it be in the form of attention, performance credit, prestige; Backstabbers want to be recognized for something they feel that others are not noticing in them. Granted, if a Backstabber gets you fired or demoted, those are actually delicious little bonuses that come with the territory.

In some cases, and only depending on what kind of office culture you work in, Backstabbers can be socially shamed into quitting or toning down their ways (or getting promoted) – it’s really a crapshoot.

Backstabbers come and go easily – you may even be friends with one! If a Backstabber hasn’t set his/her sights on you (yet) try to look for the signs as early as possible. Backstabbers develop a fixation on a seemingly imagined adversarial relationship with the supposed “enemey”.

They may “think” the person in question is out to “get them” but in actuality the Backstabber is really plotting their unsuspecting victim’s demise.

Sabotage is an ugly game and it takes a certain kind of creature to develop a plan of strategy and execution (no pun intended). Unfortunately, it’s not too hard to sabotage a fellow co-worker, it’s just harder to be successful at it. Sabotage occurs in a plethora of ways, Backstabbers may even resort to more malicious versions of the Gossip, Complainer, Snooper and even the Traditionalist (see above).

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