We have all had a bad boss, and it has caused us stress, made us feel in conflict, and ultimately made us hate our jobs.
Several years ago I worked for someone that I did not understand and could not figure out, this person made decisions that did not make sense and acted contrary to what I thought was the goal of the job. It took a long time, but finally I started to get to know my boss and understood why the decisions were made, but it wasn’t just about the boss, the conflict I felt was also about the culture in which we worked. We worked in a highly extrinsically motivated culture, that was driven by power, money, and influence. In highly extrinsic cultures, people who are motivated by extrinsic motivators like money, tend to NOT be as focused on the employee and we can perceive them as cruel, hardened, and selfish. Personally, I am more intrinsically motivated and am motivated from helping people, adding value, and the desire to feel good at the end of the day.
Ultimately what I found out was that it wasn’t the boss that was the problem, the problem was me. I was not a good fit for the culture at work. We must ask ourselves, why are we on comfortable?
One of my favorite professors at the Carlson School of Management, Mary Zellmer-Bruhn teaches Organizational Behavior. At the beginning of our class she asked us to ask ourselves not react to a situation, but instead ask why we were uncomfortable. I have found this to be very valuable advice, because we can be triggered by behavior in others and it has nothing to do with the situation but more to do with how we interpret the situation.
A good friend of mine also told me that what we don’t like in others is what we don’t like it ourselves, and it can be very hard to have the self reflection, introspection, and mindful analysis to understand this conflict.
Have you had a horrible boss and what did you learn?