Why do so many hard-working employees suddenly turn evil — horns, pitchfork and all — the day they become a manager?
Oh, I know: Because calling the boss evil is the go-to explanation for your career dissatisfaction. You and I know that it’s way easier to bash the boss than to take personal accountability for your career.
Plenty of employees hate their jobs, but instead of acting they pout. To make the situation even more toxic, they whine about it with their co-workers, blaming others and projecting their disengagement.
The boss becomes evil when he or she sees your negative behavior or hears about it from others. The boss starts pressuring you for more engagement and productivity, and you retreat further. Here come the horns (from your perspective).
Pop Quiz: Have you used any of these excuses lately? (Okay, if you haven’t, maybe you’ve heard a friend use them?)
- I work hard and my boss doesn’t recognize my effort.
- I have no work-life balance thanks to this company (and my boss).
- Other people are getting promoted, and I’m always passed up.
- I don’t have any time to work on my career because I’m working so hard in the office.
- If I network, job search, or look at other opportunities, my boss will think I’m disloyal.
- I should be promoted since I’ve been around forever.
- My company is not giving me challenging opportunities to grow.
- My company has me pigeon-holed in one type of job and I’ll never get out.
- Management is a bunch of yahoos – they don’t know what they’re doing.
- I don’t believe in (or understand) the company’s strategic direction.
I’ve been there, done that — I’ve uttered every excuse in the book.
During my 30-year sales and marketing career, I’ve been extremely lucky — except for one brief year, when I was completely miserable. Even when I had a great boss, when I wasn’t feeling good about my career, I slipped into boss-blaming or company-blaming.
Realistically: It was easier than facing the harsh reality that I needed to do something. The options?
- Plan A: Choose to do something to moderate my work style in order to alter the perceptions holding me back from career change and growth.
- Plan B: Develop a plan to move on with my career, mitigate my risks, and avoid jumping into another “stuck” role.
- Plan C: There is no plan C, because remaining miserable isn’t an option.
The good news is that both options A and B can be very rewarding. However, whether you’re changing your work style or your entire career path, both take time, both can be frustrating, and there are no shortcuts.
For option A to work, you need to embrace any negative feedback and make difficult course-corrections. On the other hand, option B requires careful planning, a desire to compete for a new position, and the willingness to learn the latest job search techniques. Either one can pack a blow to the ego.
Catch yourself the next time you abdicate your career growth to anybody else — nobody cares about your career more than you do. What choice will you make? Option A or Option B?