Screw the Boss — It’s Time to Leave!
Contrary to what the company wants you to believe, you have choices
It’s the number one complaint from workers that end up leaving their employer ... the Boss.
The number one complaint of employees is that their managers avoid taking action, refuse to be responsible for their mistakes, and they take credit for things they didn’t do! — Marie Gervais, Ph.D., CEO Shift Management
During my corporate career, I had a few good bosses and a disproportionate number of bad ones.
It wasn’t long before I recognized a few commonalities shared by the good ones: They were exceptional leaders, knew how to motivate and direct their subordinates to maximize productivity, and, when necessary, would support their people by extending them the benefit of the doubt.
And there was one more characteristic: They didn’t stay long.
In their place, the company hierarchy promoted those who were a better “fit” for the position. That meant someone who didn’t represent a professional threat to the next-level supervisor.
It also meant someone who would do as they were told, follow company procedure and process to the letter, and never question company policy. These more compliant managers were the human equivalent of a processional worm. They had no real leadership skills and often resorted to intimidation, coercion, and veiled threats of economic loss . . .
“If this doesn’t work out, you’ll need to seek other employment.
Translation? “Cross me again, and I’ll fire your ass!”
If you’ve had a boss who consistently proved himself to be an asshole, you know exactly what I’m talking about.
Promoted because they brown-nosed their way into being the favorite minion of a mid or upper-level supervisor, they were “rewarded” with a title, a small kingdom to rule — to keep the damage to a minimum — and just enough authority to make life a living hell for those who work for them.
The workplaces they manage are typically tense, uncomfortable, virtual prisons filled with stressed-out, anxious employees who are just waiting for the chance to jump ship.
What I’ve described is part of the rationale — and the collective motivation — for the Great Resignation.
People are tired of being treated like objects, being used and abused until they’re exhausted. Then they’re thrown out — replaced by others who repeat the cycle.
So what can you do?
One option is to put up with it. Resign yourself to staying in a shit-pit of fear and worry, concerned you may not grovel low enough to suit some moron who butt-kissed his way to a supervisory position. However, if you take this route you’ll likely end up asking yourself how much longer — how many more years — you’ll have to put up with this grief.
I can tell you that staying offers one underrated advantage: You can see your future.
Take a look at your older co-workers — the ones who’ve been there for twenty or more years. Typically in their fifties and sixties, you’ll see it in their faces, in the way they approach their responsibilities, in the priority they put on lunch and coffee breaks.
I remember those looks — the expressions of having given up, of facing another day of doing just enough to get by while waiting for a better situation that never arrives. Those folks were “lifers,” the ones who’d been sucked dry by the system. They’d lost their identity, and forgotten who they were as a man or woman.
Is that the kind of future you see for yourself in ten or twenty years?
Our careers are always subject to change. We generally associate that variable with management. THEY can fire us, put us on the shortlist to be managed out — or make our lives a living hell.
We often forget we have the same power. And we can exercise it by packing our personal items, waving goodbye with an extended third finger, and walking out the door.
I’ve done it a couple of times, and I have to tell you, it’s awesome.
But I didn’t do it without doing plenty of soul-searching. And that meant being able to confidently answer the following questions:
Do I have a realistic amount of financial resources saved to pay for one year’s living expenses? I arrived at this amount much sooner by reducing my cost of living. For example, you could start by cutting back on eating out and delivered meals. Cut the cable and replace it with a digital streaming device. Replace your “name” cell phone service provider and use a “clone” service — same network and coverage, but billed at substantial savings (Spectrum versus Verizon is a good example.) Review your subscriptions and eliminate the ones you don’t use or need. Get the idea?
Am I leaving anything of importance or value behind? If so, what steps do I need to take to make sure I maximize the assets I take with me? This includes your 401K and other company-sponsored investments, intellectual property that is legally yours, and something that is often overlooked . . . your relationships with customers, suppliers, and co-workers you want to maintain for either personal or professional reasons.
Do I have an active plan to find a new career to replace my income? How long — realistically — will it take to find the kind of work I want to do? If my plans are entrepreneurial, have I already started my new business? If not, why not? Moving from an employee to working for yourself can often take the form of an overlapping transition.
Here’s the Takeaway . . .
I spent fourteen years in a job I knew was wrong for me.
I tolerated the stress, manipulation, and innuendo, and toward the end, the outright accusations of being “unmanageable,” even though I consistently exceeded sales quotas, grew market share, and received praise from customers. But there was a day when it became too much, when management’s new policies made it clear it was time to leave.
And that was the day that changed my life. My only regret? I spent far too many years working for a company that made promises they refused to keep — a company where success was based on cronyism and butt-kissing instead of measurable results and proven merit.
Yes, the next few years were challenging. At times, they were frustrating and downright scary.
But looking back on that day — the day I packed up my personal items and walked out of the office for the last day — still leaves me with a feeling of freedom, of regaining my independence, of finally realizing I could pursue the kind of work I wanted to do — and not worry about offending the overly sensitive egos of corporate dead-wood.
So begin your new career by researching your options, planning your exit, and implementing your transition. Yes, it sounds simple. But it comes with hours of hand wringing, more than a few sleepless nights, and having to face the constant question, “Am I doing the right thing?”
At the time, you won’t be able to say for sure. But if you’re like most people who leave an unsatisfying, dead-end job, the answer will come a few years down the road, when you look back and ask yourself, what took me so long?
Thanks for reading,
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Roger A. Reid, Ph.D. is a certified NLP trainer with degrees in engineering and business. Roger is the author of Better Mondays and Speak Up, and host of Success Point 360 Podcast, offering tips and strategies for achieving higher levels of career success and personal fulfillment in the real world.
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