Your Next Boss Is Probably Not Going To Be Better Than The Idiot You Work For Now

Bad boss

If I was hiring a manager to oversee a crew of hardcore code writers, I can tell you the first person I would cross off my list: a coder.

I would hire someone skilled at communicating to and motivating humans who write code.

And there’s the reason your next boss won’t be better than the one you have now.

Managers are normally hired for the following reasons:

  • They are a celebrity within an industry
  • They were the best salesperson on the sales staff
  • They are good salespeople who sold HR a bucket of blah about their human interaction theories

Those are the worst possible reasons to make that hire, if the company cares about the people who do the actual work.

Why wouldn’t you make your best saleswoman on the staff a very highly paid salesperson instead of a manager? These are two completely different skill sets. Why don’t we let them do what they’re great at and compensate them appropriately?

It’d be great to have one (and currently, thank god, finally, I have two AWESOME ones), we do not deserve a good boss. This is not an entitlement of our jobs. If you’ve lived a little and have worked at a few jobs it’s possible almost everyone you worked with were managed by incompetents of varying degrees. Seriously. Why managers expect new hires to be a clone of them is absolutely nuts.

Your passion for reinvention might include bouncing out from a ridiculous boss for a better one.

How to deal?

  • Understand they are probably be doing the best they know how. Start with empathy.
  • Manage your manager. You’re allowed to create boundaries and set expectations. Your boss might be thrilled to hear this from you!
  • Learn to let their lack of self-awareness wash off of you. Most of the time they just want the project done; they don’t want to kill you in the process. If the boss is always moving the goal, next time ask for a specific goal and timeline.
  • Walk a mile in their shoes. Again, empathy. Is your boss getting hammered from above, resulting in a culture where the garbage rolls downhill? That’s not totally your manager’s fault.
  • Seek support on how to have conversations with your boss, from people outside your industry and company. Don’t whine in the hallways with co workers.

You think you’d be a great leader? Be careful what you wish for. The job you think you could do so much better than your current manager might end up being the biggest nightmare of your career.

Now that we’ve dealt with your bad boss, here’s what you might do if one of your co-workers is a sociopath.

John Scott is Sr. Marketing Manager at Benningfield Group, a custom software maker in Folsom, CA. John’s also an adjunct lecturer at the School of Communications and Media Technologies at Academy of Art University, San Francisco. Picture of John Scott

@johnscottsf

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