Don’t “quit!” Find a new boss…

5 06 2015

They go by a variety of titles:  foreman, chief, supervisor, manager, director, chief operating officer, chief executive officer, president, chairman, founder, employer…  The title most often missing is “leader.”  Regardless what title the person you report to may wear, beneath the surface he or she must be a leader, “the head guy or gal, the one running the show,” “a person who rules or guides or inspires others,” as defined by[1]

Look no further than the pages of Fortune Magazine[2] to find a list of the world’s greatest leaders.  They come from business (Tim Cook, CEO, Apple), finance (Mario Draghi, President, European Central Bank), government (Xi Jinping, President, People’s Republic of China), religion (Pope Francis, Pontiff, Catholic Church), show business (Taylor Swift, Pop Star, Big Machine Records), and every other imaginable source. How do these high profile over-achievers compare with Bernie Smallowitz, supervisor on the 12-8 shift at Any Ironworks in Everytown, USA?  Does Bernie lead/guide/motivate you to be the very best pipefitter on the shift, in the company, in the industry?

According to The Wall Street Journal,[3] the standard mix of bosses/employees stood at 1:10 since the 1930’s.  Most recently, that ratio has grown as high as 1:56.  So, pick a number.  For the sake of argument, a ratio of 1 boss for each 25 employees should be reasonable.  With a current labor force of 157,469,000[4], according to the US Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, 6,300,000 or more of them have a job title that calls for some level of leadership.  Obviously, they cannot all function at the levels of Cook, Draghi, etc.

The questions then are:

  • How do you measure your boss’s leadership?
  • What do you do if your boss’s leadership is unsatisfactory?

Use this simple guide to measure your boss’s leadership:

Characteristic Rank (1-5)
Is your boss honest with you/others?
Is your boss intelligent/knowledgeable?
Is your boss organized (Planning/follow-up)?
Does your boss offer recognition?
Is your boss dedicated to the company?
Does your boss communicate well?
Is your boss reasonable?
Does your boss trust/believe in you?

With 5 being excellent and 1 being unacceptable, rank the people to whom you report.  If the final score is 36-40, you are a lucky person; 30-35, better than most; 20-30, not good but fixable; 0-20, find another job.  If your response to the first question is less than 5, you may choose to go no further.

As you ponder this dilemma, some thoughts to consider:  Does upper management support your boss?  After all, they chose him/her for that position.  They may be unhappy with his/her performance.  Are you alone in your feelings?  Always look within first.  Perhaps you can change the situation by offering support and constructive criticism.  If you sense your boss’s dissatisfaction with you, then carefully weigh your effort, and attitude.  Do you like your job, your employer, your work environment, fellow employees?  Answers to those questions will help you decide whether to:

  • Sit down with your boss and iron out your differences.
  • Seek a position in a different department within the same company.
  • Find employment elsewhere.

The process of carefully evaluating your employment by establishing specific parameters for your situation and then fixing values for each one should begin on your first day of employment and continue on a quarterly/semi-annual/annual basis throughout your career.  The process will help you establish a baseline and measure changes. Career decisions will then be determined logically, not emotionally.

Fifty years in the labor market is a long-long time.  Advancement will keep you fresh and motivated. Stagnation and boredom will drain your energy and steal your health.  Rarely do companies give out gold watches for thirty or more years of loyal support. No one cares about your future more than you.  Two thoughts that come all too frequently as retirement age approaches:

  • “If only I had found a way to fix my issues and stayed with that company…”
  • “I never really liked my job…”

You were selected for employment because of your intelligence, your knowledge, and your experience, not your emotions.  Apply those resources to career management, and you will enjoy a fruitful, productive, rewarding career.