It’s me, hi, I’m the problem, it’s me (Not your boss!)

You don’t have to look far to find a laundry list of reasons why management stinks. But let’s be honest; it’s easy to blame the boss. They’re the ones responsible for company policies and procedures, creating the corporate climate, handing out promotions, and determining compensation.

And entertaining the idea that you could be part of the problem would be plain absurd, right? You’re just the dutiful employee who shows up, ready and willing to do whatever is asked of you. You have no say about the ins and outs of the organization, no control.

While there are certainly cases of atrocious bosses, I’ve been in the executive recruiting game for well over 20 years, and I know the ‘truth’ lies somewhere in the middle.

It’s you, hi, you’re the problem, it’s you… possibly

Is your boss really to blame? 

Like Baskin Robbins, bosses come in more than 31 flavors. An important part of building a positive relationship with your boss is understanding your manager’s management style, personality, strengths, and weaknesses.  Discovering how to engage with your boss will not only help your workday go considerably smoother but your long-term career as well. At the same time, identify your own work style, strengths, and weaknesses. There is probably room for improvement on your side, too. Like any relationship, it takes time, honesty, and good communication to make the employer/employee dynamic a positive one.

Do they know you want more?

Leadership can’t give you what you don’t ask for. More importantly, you can’t ask for the things you yourself haven’t identified. You probably have a plan for how you want to rise through the ranks, skills, and experiences you want to acquire, and a compensation level you expect to achieve. Have you communicated that plan to leadership or asked if the organization has a promotion plan in place? Partnering with your manager and HR allows you to work together to get you where you want to be.

Is it really a better job?

69% of employees leave their current role for what they think will be a better one. But is it really better? Take a closer look at the positive aspects of your current role. This may give you a little distance from the negatives you know all too well (and probably focus on daily). It also helps you prioritize the things that matter, highlighting the things you might be willing to live with or without to get some other benefits. In the end, you may decide to part ways with your current employer, but you’ll know exactly what you’re leaving behind.

Do you really deserve a pat on the back?

Everyone deserves recognition for a job well done. But should you be rewarded for simply doing your job? Isn’t that what your salary is for? It is reasonable for employers to expect their employees to work hard and complete tasks and projects within their job description. Saying ‘thank you’ is a common courtesy that should not be overlooked. But receiving accolades and perks for simply doing your job is an unreasonable expectation. Before you label your boss an unappreciative jerk, ask yourself this: Are you doing more than is expected or the bare minimum?

Have you looked in the mirror lately?

Toxic coworkers undermine productivity and workplace cohesiveness. Just like blaming management for your unhappiness, it’s easy to blame everyone else for being caught up in office drama. But what role are you playing in the brouhaha? If you continually find yourself in the middle of the mayhem, it’s entirely possible it’s no accident. Even though your involvement stems from the best intentions, you may very well be the common denominator and unknowingly (or knowingly) fan the flames.

Are you saying ‘yes’ when you should be saying ‘no’?

If you are consistently the last one out the door at the end of the day and your To Do list is never complete, it’s easy to assume you are carrying the weight of the “slackers” in your office. This is not necessarily true. You may be saying a whole lot of “yes” when you should be saying “no,” leaving yourself overcommitted and stressed out. It’s likely management has no idea that you’re on the verge of walking out because they don’t know you gave a begrudging “yes” when asked to take on a project. Employers can’t fix what they don’t know is broken. Setting reasonable boundaries for your in- and out-of-office time is necessary. If a boss is overstepping, communicate, use your job description to point out what does and does not fall within the scope of your role, and say no! This applies to after-hours emails, too. Many bosses send emails to employees who have set a precedent of responding at any hour. Unless your boss has explicitly told you that after-hours emails, texts, and phone calls are part of your job description, do not respond when they reach out. Draw your own boundaries and stick to them.

Career Development