Perhaps you are one of the fortunate ones. Your boss is great. They respect you, appreciate your hard work, provide valuable guidance and insight, understand what you are doing, but give you enough freedom to create. Good for you! Now, wait for it, because it won’t last. Eventually, you’ll hate your boss. Hate may be too strong of a word, you just won’t want to work for them anymore because they:
- Micro manage,
- Play politics,
- Don’t have any technical knowledge,
- Are too negative and see problems where there are none,
- Underestimate everything,
- Make decisions without information,
- Yell like a drill sergeant,
- Are disorganized,
- Can never be reached,
- Change requirements hourly,
- Think they know how to do everything, and it involves VB,
- Never anticipate problems,
- Don’t allow creativity, everything has to be by the spec,
- Are indecisive,
- Are too easy-going, and let people get by with murder,
- Don’t provide input or add any value,
- And on and on…
Any of these sound familiar? Do you want your boss to possess any of these qualities? Those of you with good eyes may see some contradictions in these common complaints. Requirements change all the time, but I can’t be creative, and have to do it to the spec? Well, which do you want, flexibility to be creative or stable requirements? I would guess the answer is ideally both, but at least a nice balance between the two, and therein lies the rub. It would be great to have a technically competent boss who provides tremendous input, makes timely decisions, but also allows plenty of freedom and independence to employees, all while being organized and setting clear objectives. Now that sounds easy enough, right?
If you think that it is easy, well you’ve probably never been a boss, because it’s not. It’s very difficult to find the right balance. Worse, the right balance is different for every employee. Some need virtually no supervision, and don’t want any. Some need constant help and guidance. Some want clear requirements, while others want creative freedom. Being all of things to all the employees is not only hard, it makes you inconsistent and open to charges of favoritism. Hey, if it was easy, complaining about bosses wouldn’t be a national pastime.
I’ve had bosses I thought were great, and bosses I thought were horrible, miserable people, and they were the same person! Times change, situations change, stress causes people to act differently. I probably changed, too. I’ve also been a boss. I had one employee tell me he appreciated my “humanity”. I take that as a great compliment. He, of course, had other feedback that brought me quickly back to Earth. I’ve hired well, and I’ve hired poorly, and had to let people go to correct my mistake, which is awful. Nope, it’s not easy.
We expect a lot from bosses, so much that I think we will most likely be disappointed in the long run. We also have a disposition to complain about bosses. It’s a sort of team bonding exercise for employees to have the occasional gripe session.
Now, the purpose of this article is not to defend bosses, and recommend that October 16 (National Boss Day) be declared a major holiday, equal to Labor Day. I’m as big a boss basher as anyone. It’s hard, but there are some really terrible bosses out there. No, the purpose here is to explain why you’ll hate your boss.
It’s because they aren’t you.
Your boss will not want to do things the same way you want day in and day out. They will not have the same knowledge, ability, communication style, career goals, family problems and mood swings as you. Eventually, the differences will arise. Think about it as a marriage. If you are married, or have a long-term partner, do you always see things the same way; do you always get along, every day? You chose your spouse (hopefully after a lengthy “interview process”). Your relationship with your boss is a shotgun wedding at best, and may be an arranged marriage if they didn’t hire you directly. Of course there will be differences, and the commitment level is different in a marriage (again, hopefully), so we should expect frequent work divorces.
So, how do we fix this? It’s easy – become the boss! No, I don’t mean climb the corporate ladder, which might involve some inappropriate politicking, and would cause you to have those ungrateful employees. I mean go out and start your own company. Be your own boss. Be your own employee. Then the only one you can complain about is yourself.