Feathers were ruffled. People from all around the globe reacted to a post I wrote last week about how anger can destroy your career. It wasn't a surprise. Numerous studies spotlight an increasingly ugly problem that exists in the corporate world--job dissatisfaction.
The Society of Human Resource Management Association, or SHRM reports that only 38 percent of employees feel very satisfied with their current job. Gallup shows that nearly 70 percent of employees are not engaged in their work. But what struck me about the responses I received was how many people are frustrated and angry at work simply because of the way their boss manages people. "Micromanaging," was a word often used in responses. "A focus on only the negative," was another. However the most common response I received was, "...a lack of appreciation."
"I work angry and depressed daily, and feel helpless to change any of it," commented a reader named Sarah. "Our 'leader' is oblivious to it."
What do you do in this situation?
There is no cookie-cutter answer that solves every situation. Nevertheless, after working with companies, and interviewing people from organizations around the world, I suggest four things that can positively transform culture, and negative boss behavior.
1. Serve the Recipient of Your Work.
It's common, especially with a leader that is focused on finding the negative in situations, to assume your job is to make them happy on a daily basis. However, in these situations many employees overlook the true recipient of their work.
My friend Mark Sanborn wrote a book about understanding the impact you can have by serving the recipient of your work, titled, The Fred Factor. The book follows a postal carrier who truly goes out of his way to serve his 'clients', even though his extra effort wouldn't get him a raise, extra accolades, or a promotion. He served the people on his route.
If your boss is dragging you down with negativity, start by looking at the audience you truly serve. It may be a customer, a fellow employee, or a different department. Focus on doing something that the recipient of your work will absolutely love. Your boss will have a difficult time being negative about the kudos you receive.
2. Stop Meeting Expectations and Exceed Them.
Negative bosses are often sticklers for meeting expectations. However, in my own personal experience, they have a tough time finding crude comments when employees go above and beyond. Research shows that 88 percent of award-winning projects begin with an employee asking the question, "What difference could I make that someone would love?"
The word "love" doesn't mean just living up to your job description. It means going above and beyond. Before you quit seek new employment, ask yourself if you've truly created a difference that someone loves.
3. View The World From Their Eyes, With Their Goals, and Take Action.
If you think your boss is a jerk, it's tough to see the world through their lens. But my friend, Bestselling Author Rory Vaden, may have said it best when he was quoted as saying, "Only hurt people, hurt people."
Try to see the world through the eyes of your jerky boss. What are they trying to achieve, and who are they trying to impress? Your boss may have a worse boss, and a negative perception of leadership because that's the only thing they know. Step into their shoes. Offer to help them reach their goal and impress the people they're worried about.
You may not live day-to-day in a culture of appreciation. But that doesn't mean you shouldn't practice it. Research shows recognition and appreciation is the number one thing employees say their boss could do that would inspire them to produce great work. If your boss isn't handing out accolades, it doesn't mean you can't.
Look for the great work your team is accomplishing. Appreciate them. And, go to your boss and say, "Mike has been doing a phenomenal job. He's pouring his heart and soul into making us all look good. Would it be okay if I said something at our next standup meeting? Can I recognize him?" I can almost promise that your boss will say "yes." And, I can almost promise that he or she will also want to say a few kind words as well.
I've heard stories about how all of these tactics have worked to change teams, cultures and the attitudes of bosses. And, I hope you picked up on the fact that I never suggested you "Complain." This, I've found, rarely results in positive change. It results in hostility, resentment and more anger.
You, as an employee, have more power to create change than you'd ever assume. Try these four things before you decide to say good-bye.