We are working in an office, shared by three persons – all having the same job title – simply three men for one job. However, the professional and personal dealings of each employee with the boss are not the same. There is a bilateral behavioral paradox. A general description of the relationship of each employee with the boss is as under:-
- Employee A. Professionally average worker, evasive towards dealing with colleagues but highly sycophantic towards boss – highly liked by the boss “Boss’s Chum”.
- Employee B. Professionally outstanding but not liked by the boss as boss feels insecure by his exceptional professional skills – sidelined by the boss “Professional step-son”.
- Employee C. Professionally sound but does not put his heart into work - being treated as a third-rated worker by the boss and given only non-sensitive routine work “Extra-Player”.
The BIG Question?
What caused this behavioural variations and conflicts at the workplace and what is the solution to address these issues for a successful professional life?
Reasons of the Mutual Behavioral Variations
- Hierarchical Sensitivities. In a professional setup, there is a vertical professional hierarchy in which there are various bosses up the ladder; low-tier bosses, mid-tier bosses and the ultimate boss at the top. These bosses at various levels get the work done from their under commands and submit these responses to their superior bosses. Nobody wants their under-commands to bypass the chain and if one does that he / she has to face the consequences.
- Varying Working styles of Bosses. Some bosses trust employees and tend to delegate responsibilities, some exercise caution in work applying rigid control measures by over-centralization. Some bosses think big and let go of small mistakes of the under commands; some make an issue out of the minutest things. Working styles of bosses affect juniors’ behaviours emotionally and professionally.
- Professional Insecurities. It is a professional nightmare for a boss that his / her juniors bypass him / her and report their work to the superior bosses as this may imperil the boss’s own position. As bosses try to control their juniors, the juniors also, at times, try to outsmart their rigid bosses to showcase their skills and get admired by high ups. Therefore, driven by this professional insecurity, bosses exercise tight control over their under-commands and their behaviour varies with differing professional tendencies and motives of each under-command.
- Sharing of Brains / Personalities. Like-minded personalities tend to behave, interact and co-exist better. Behavioural transactions are directly proportional to the synchronization level of boss-employee personalities’ frequency match/mismatch.
- Communication Skills. Easy communication skills of employee save time and energy of the boss; poor communication skills pester him.
- Manipulations by the colleagues. Workplace manipulation occurs when a supervisor or coworker uses guilt, shame, coercion, or other tactics to exploit another member of the team which results in behavioural conflicts.
- Emotional Intelligence. Bosses and employees with a good emotional intelligence quotient (EQ) tend to team up well rather than those with poor EQ.
- Egos. Irrespective of the position, everyone has egos which affect mutual behaviours professionally as well as personally. A better office environment means that everyone is given due self-respect; opposite is the case in ego-driven restrained workplaces.
- Casual Human Resource Administration by the Department. Departments are run by the rules. Non-implementation or poor administration to injustices within the organizations dwindle employees' motivation and personal conduct.
- Non-acknowledgement leading to lack of Professional Motivation. Every employee needs acknowledgement for a job well done and if he / she does not get it, it results in a lack of motivation for the work – and sullen behaviours.
Solutions - What can you do for a successful Professional Life?
There is no quick-fix solution to the problem however, the steps enumerated in the following paras will guide you to gradually transform yourself to move from being on the odd side of the boss to the right side:-
- Understand Workplace Environment. Many people suffer a lot professionally because they fail to fully understand the working environment at office. Good employees always assess office culture and mould themselves according to the professional needs. Understanding office norms includes knowing about accepted practices and procedures, methods of communication, quality of work required, channel of reporting, unwritten rules, conflict management and dispute resolution processes.
- Diary daily Official Interactions – Strengths and Weaknesses. Logging daily activity is important to know and analyze your strengths and weakness in your daily office routine. This way, one can identify his / her mistakes to avoid repeating them in the future.
- Remove Irritants. When we diary our mistakes on daily basis, it will be easy for us to find out and remove the recurrent interaction or work-related irritants, which can boost our trust with the boss substantially.
- Take Counselling. At times, our brains cease to come up with plausible ideas to get out of the conflict quagmire and we continue to drain our energies in locating the causes of the problem. Our thinking is shrouded by egos, negative thoughts and emotions due to which we cannot reach a rational decision or identify a practical course of action. Therefore, it is advisable to discuss the matter and take counseling from empathetic and experienced people to set our sails in the right direction.
- Empower Boss. A boss always likes the employee who empowers him by assisting him in his work and by removing undue work friction or impediments. Therefore, understand boss’s priorities and try to empower him by offering efficient and viable solutions to the problems.
- Re-build Trust. Mutual respect, obedience and honesty are the pre-requisites to re-building trust with the boss. Bosses can overlook minute professional lapses but cannot tolerate disrespect, disobedience and dishonesty.
- Keep secrets from the Manipulative Colleagues. Jealous co-workers are always on the watch to know about your strengths and weaknesses to pull you down. Be alert and keep your secrets to avoid being manipulated by them.
- Improve Communication Skills. Good communication skills are very important. Mould your conversations according to the boss’s personality. Diary daily conversations with the boss and try to practice putting across your viewpoint to the tune of the boss for healthy discussions and efficient decision making.
- Final Step - Report Red Flags to the Authorities. As a last resort, when all other above-mentioned options fail, report the matter to superior authorities. However, the success of this strategy is not always guaranteed because mostly, organizations favour and empower their staff according to their positions in the hierarchy to keep a smooth office routine. Sometimes, organizations have also delegated responsibilities for the administration of their under-command staff to the same bosses against which one might have grievances – so it is better to choose your option wisely or else your stay in the organization and reputation might plunge to the point of no return.
If you cannot change your boss, then it is better to change yourself. Don’t look for the change without, first step is to apply the change within. Change requires patience, routine assessment of the workplace environment and regular practice to improve upon your weaknesses. With these guidelines in mind, eventually, one can apply necessary corrections at his / her workplace to lead a contended professional as well as personal life.
This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.
© 2022 M Ayaan