Help my boss is an idiot! 5 steps to freedom: Part 3
In part 3 we will explore what to do about meeting the expectations you discovered in part 2.
Step 3: Can you, with integrity, give it to them?
Seriously, most bosses are challenging by nature. Most bosses expect us to “do more with less”, most bosses are bad at giving praise, most bosses have unfair biases, most bosses under appreciate us and don’t treat us the way we wish we could be treated.
Yup it’s true all the above statements may happen to you. News Flash: the work world isn’t always fair and rarely treats people equally!
The question you need to ask is very simple: Can I give my boss what he is asking for and look myself in the mirror tomorrow morning? If your answer is yes, he may not be the idiot you originally thought. He simply may be a challenging boss that you find difficult to work for. If your answer is no, the path gets complicated.
Your ethical dilemma: I need my job and my boss is forcing me to do things I find unacceptable.
(By the way do not apply this advice to a potentially illegal situation or activity, rather seek appropriate legal counsel)
What to do?
I faced this very situation several years ago, working for a narcissistic boss who seemed more concerned with his reputation and personal performance than the seemingly impossible situations he sometimes put his employees in. Without going into detail my approach was very simple. In each situation I identified acceptable answers for the organization that met my boss’s expectations in principle and that I could accept personally. I made a clear point of developing strong relationships both within the organization and with customers to minimize any potential risk to the organization. At the same time I began the search for a new organization to work with. It was still very difficult to work under this boss but in the end I learned a lot from him, even if it was how I never wanted to behave.
You must answer this question on your own; no one can do it for you.
In leadership classes on motivation I often ask people why they go to work. After the inevitable answer “for the money” I get a rich and diverse set of answers that speak to the intrinsic motivators people have within them. One day someone blurted out “because I have to.” I stopped dead in my tracks and stared at him. I explained that there are several ways to legally earn money to support your family, and that working for a company was but one of them. To concede choice and say “because I have to” is to be a victim. I urge you never fall into this trap!
What can you do if because of circumstances you find it very difficult to leave your current position? Here is my advice
- Perform at your highest reasonable ability.
This is the best protection for your current income. This includes showing up on time, absolutely minimizing unplanned absences and seeking performance improvement feedback. Learn everything you can about how to perform better.
- Learn new work skills.
Volunteer for special assignments, join committees, be a part on improvement teams. Increase your skill set and become more marketable.
- Learn relentlessly
Many people who do not have a university degree have experienced the cruel reality that they are often discriminated against for promotion and new opportunities. Yup, it happens. What can you do? Go back to school… But I can’t afford it, but I’m not book smart, but I have a learning disability. I know there are many reasons, and many are legitimate. One of the biggest difference between today and this day four years from now is whether you can now add some letters to the end of your name. There are ways around the money thing and ways around your learning style challenges, only you can deal with the issue of motivation.
What if “formal” education is not for you for whatever reason? Realize first you have conceded a big advantage to others and it will be even more difficult to differentiate yourself. There are many ways to learn and they cost nothing but your time. Volunteering is a fantastic way to learn. Reading books on topics of interest is another fantastic way to learn. What if you don’t like reading? How about Audible.com??? Never in history has it been so easy to read! Here’s another one, seek out a mentor in a topic you want to learn about.
- Build your network
It amazes me sometimes how little people understand that we live in a relational reality. Those people who maintain healthy and vibrant networks find it far easier to find opportunities, ideas and solutions than those that live a closed off life. You may be a person who maintains a small tight group of contacts, yes I know and you should be constantly expand your network to include interesting and fascinating people. The more of this you do now the easier it will be when you need their help. With LinkedIn we can now do this globally!
Okay that’s enough on this for now…
And that’s it for part 3. Your homework?
Do something from the list above, anything frankly. What you need is momentum not perfection. Doing something makes it easier and less scary to do the next “something”.