On my way to work I see a hoarding for a chair which is said to help you get rid of pain caused by poor posture. It uses a tagline that, I am sure, catches a lot of people’s attention, ‘The pain in your neck at work is just not your boss.’
Hating the boss is the favourite pastime at work, as I have gathered in the past decade or so. Over cups of coffee, in the restrooms, in the meeting rooms, in the corridors, while waiting for the elevators, people are wrung with agony, beset with pain, twisted with anger, lamenting what the boss did, did not do, almost did, almost did not do, would have done, could have done, and maybe could have almost not done.
Any which way, (s)he has hardly any hope of getting out of it alive!
On the other hand, bosses are expected not to discuss their teams, crib about them, or vent. That is decried as ‘un-boss-like’ and unprofessional.
It is quite interesting to note that, according to some surveys, folks in India are relatively more obsessed with hating the boss. Psychologist attribute it to the socio-psychological roots – over the centuries, people have expected a leader to be a source from which flow all possible aids: help, assistance, knowledge, comfort and guidance. As goes a hymn, Gods are invoked as being mother, father, friend and buddy. Could that be the reason bosses are expected to be the source of much more than a single person can provide?
Good organizations struggle to keep providing to make the employee happy. They set in place processes, feedback mechanisms, and pulse checks to ensure the employees feel better. But weighing everything, I don’t believe that processes, beyond a certain point will push the dissat curve towards green.
I believe bosses need to be recruited/groomed and held accountable by the best possible processes. And, indices other than employee satisfaction measure their performance, outputs, and results.
Once that is in place, it’s time to focus on the employee – explain what is expected lucidly, clarify performance goals, coach, measure and feedback.
And, if things do not seem to be good, don’t be squeamish about the ‘S’ word (I meant ‘sack’!) for either parties.
It’s a 2-way street.
Finally, to throw a stone, I feel one should ensure his/her track-record is impeccable first. If a review mechanism tells that it is not, the person should keep that stone down, meditate, channelize the energy flowing towards anger into a stellar performance, and then look for that stone. But, you know what, once the anger is channelized, you won’t even feel like looking for that stone.