Tue 5 Apr 2011
Mr. Sleepless in the office. That’s batty boss # 3.
This is the workaholic boss. You will get an email from him at 2:00 a.m. and he calls you from the office at 7:30 a.m., wondering why you aren’t in the office. His standards are pretty high and he’s not very forgiving with anything less than your best. If he’s putting in all those long hours, you should be too. If you aren’t, you will quickly get on his radar. These types are usually over-stressed, burnt out and impatient. They are tough to work for and are not very understanding of the personal demands or issues their employees may be facing.
So here’s a confession. In my early years as a manager, I was a Ms. Sleepless. I’m one of those people that loves to work & can work non-stop if I’m not careful. Early on in my career I expected my team to be working alongside me. I had the attitude that “if I did it, you could do it, too”. With time, I realized I was burning out my team and myself. Just because I liked to work non-stop did not mean I should & it certainly didn’t mean my team should either. In fact, it wasn’t productive to do that. It was a painful lesson to learn because I lost a lot of great people who got tired of working for such a work horse.
In fact, the lesson was delivered by Nick, someone who worked for me a long time ago. A brave soul who decided to speak up & share what everyone in the team was feeling. Why did he do it? Because he took the time to observe me and to see what made me tick. For weeks before he approached me, he watched how I reacted to information and the best way to deliver that information in a way that was well received by me. He noticed that even though I was a workaholic, I was open to feedback from the team. I was tough but I listened.
Nick could see that I had the potential to be a good boss if I just lost the Ms. Sleepless tendencies. So he spoke up. He delivered the difficult message in an objective, non-judgmental way that I could relate to & digest. And I did. Nick’s plan worked.
When I asked him how he knew his risky move wouldn’t backfire on him, his response was priceless. He said he wasn’t sure it would work or not but he knew that by not saying anything, things would not change. I’ve never forgotten what he said to me.
He said, “You are the gatekeeper of my career. Good or bad, that is the reality. If I want to advance I have to make the relationship work. To do that I had to figure you out. Once I did, everything else fell into place”. It’s a win-win for both of us.
And it was a win-win. Because your boss – batty or not – is the gatekeeper of your career, it behooves you to figure him out instead of expecting it to be the other way around. When you take the initiative to do so, the options of how to handle his battiness will surface. You’re in control, not the other way around.
Next up, Batty # 4: Mr. Stupe (pronounced Stupee).