• Patrick McAndrew

Why Bosses Stink

I don’t think any of us like to be bossed around.  We like to have our freedom and independence when making decisions and we don’t need someone attacking us at all waking hours.  The word “bossy” conjures up a wide array of negative emotions that we prefer not to think about.  Therefore, the word “boss” isn’t much better.

Why do there seem to be so many awful bosses around us?  This is a generalization, of course.  I have had a good handful of perfectly wonderful bosses and many of my peers have had the same.  With that said, there are many people who have bosses that are simply poor leaders.

How do these people get into positions of power?  I recall the fantastic writing of the writers from The Office.  Michael Scott, possibly one of the best characters in TV ever written, is a terrible boss.  Though we grow sentimental for him throughout the duration of the show, it is clear throughout most of the series that he should not be the regional manager of Dunder Mifflin.  How in the world did this guy become manager?!

Cue the amazing writers.  There are quite a few episodes where Michael gets back in the saddle in sales, his former profession at the dull paper company before becoming manager.  He is amazing!  His sales technique is excellent and he often wins over the potential client he is selling.

And here’s a big reason why so many people get promoted to managerial positions.  Bosses may have been excellent at their entry level position, but when push comes to shove they are awful leaders.  The jobs are two completely different things.  The higher ups may think, “This lady can really make sales!  Let’s promote her to manager so she can teach her techniques to our sales team and then we will make even more of a profit!”  This makes sense to a degree and I’m not saying that an entry level position cannot excel in a managerial position.  It happens all the time, but there is much more to consider than the results one is creating in their current position.

In an article written in Psychology Today, writer Ronald E. Reggio discusses why bosses can be horrible.  He mentions how narcissism can sometimes be seen as a positive trait in the interview process.  While a little bit may be okay, if we get too much of it we end up with someone who doesn’t care about his or her employees at all.  If the leader doesn’t care, how can we expect the employees to care?  Another reason for the cause of bad bosses is that they get intoxicated by the power.  They grow power-hungry and this obscures their vision.  They begin to assert themselves and put down their subordinates.  He or she completely loses the meaning of what it means to lead and also loses a good deal of self-awareness on the effect they are having on people.

Simon Sinek has a great quote.  He states, “There are only two ways to influence human behavior: you can manipulate it or inspire it.”  Too many people attempt the former when they should be doing the latter.  We don’t get the best out of people when we try to scare them or intimidate them.  We get the best out of people when we inspire them to want to come in and work for us and the team.  In order to lead, we need to realize that we are only a small cog in the machine.  Many leaders begin to see themselves as more important and more essential than their employees.  Everyone is equal.  More bosses need to recognize this.

It’s crucial to keep in mind the importance of open communication and personal connection in the workplace.  Of course, be professional.  Don’t act in a way that will get you fired or make someone else feel uncomfortable.  But be open and vulnerable and, dare I say, loving with each other.  This creates a community in the workplace.  If everyone is stuck at their computers and smartphones, lost in e-mail and seemingly urgent tasks, we give ourselves no time to get to know one another.  This is the responsibility of the boss, of a leader.  He or she sets the precedent for the whole workplace and, the higher up one is, the greater the responsibility is to make your workplace as supportive and welcoming as possible.

Some may say this is a little kumbaya, but if you’re a leader, give it a try.  Relationships and open communication take time to develop and we must take this time to invest in our business relationships.  Leaders, managers, CEOs, and presidents must begin this domino effect, but we can also start it in our own little way if we are “down at the bottom.”  The important thing to keep in mind is that if someone doesn’t start changing the work culture, we will always have terrible bosses and people who hate going to work every day.

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