I think I hit a squirrel on the road the other day. I didn’t mean to, but the poor little guy was skittering all over the road so fast, so confused, that he didn’t really know which way to go. That’s pretty much a squirrel’s life if he lives near a busy road. One day he might not make it to the other side.
Sometimes employees can feel like they’re just skittering about so fast, so confused within their companies that they just don’t know which way to turn and how to get to the other side. They may have been given a path to take, a goal on the other side, but here comes a manager roaring down the road, putting unreasonable demands on staff, and it’s all one can do to stay safe.
That’s the inspiration from a pointed article by Aha! CEO Brian de Haaff titled “The Three Worst Habits of Clueless Leaders.” See if you’re in a company environment whose leaders are like this, as de Haaff describes:
Expecting the impossible. For example, does your boss give you a concrete deadline but keep you busy with meetings and unrelated tasks up until your deadline?
Changing direction on a whim. Does your manager routinely roll out plans to the team and then change directions midstream?
“Strong leaders know where they’re headed before they set out, and they carefully consider the cost before making an about-face.”
Not respecting employees’ time. Work is work, and we all know the necessity of going above and beyond to get the project complete. But how often does your boss expect you to be available at his or her beck and call, even after hours?
(Read Brian de Haaff’s entire article here.)
While there is no perfect work environment (or bosses), there are some actions employees can take to keep sane in a squirrely company.
First, keep good accounting of project expectations, deadlines, interruptions, and achievements. Make a habit of reviewing these with team members and managers so that everyone stays on the same page going forward without surprises.
Second, know that while some managers may not have it within them to change unreasonable behavior, you can still be successful working with a manager by finding creative ways to communicate your concerns for spontaneous changes, such as the associated costs that make a sudden about-face prohibitive for the company.
Third, help your manager see a more rounded picture of you as an employee by showing other aspects of your life—family, travel, sporting interests, etc.—where you might have common interests or experiences. Doing so might just create opportunities for receiving a deeper level of respect for your time, especially outside of the work environment.
If none of these seem to be working and you’re about to go nuts at your job, you might want to start exploring other opportunities. Remember that no company will be absolutely perfect, but a savvy, experienced recruiter in your field can help you find one that’s not so squirrely.
In the end, however, you must decide if you’re willing to skitter across that road one more time.