Talk of workplace productivity, motivation and passion (or lack thereof) typically focuses on employees and what they’re doing wrong. “Are you slacking off on the job?” “Is your bad attitude hurting your career?” (I even admit to addressing similar topics here and in articles.) Bosses are left to wonder how they can get the best out of their workers. But sometimes, the situation is reversed and the boss is the one who needs to get back to work.
A fellow writer over at The Hiring Site passed along this AP article (via The New York Times) that tackles the subject and helps workers deal with a boss that just doesn’t care anymore. In an ideal world you (the employee) could thump the boss on the head and say, “Snap out of it!” But that won’t do you any good. And if we’re in ideal worlds, you’d probably be the boss and we wouldn’t be having this conversation.
In the article, different career experts offer their advice and share their experiences. Robert I. Sutton, author of ”Good Boss, Bad Boss,” recalls one group of workers who were direct with their boss — probably more direct than most employees would be or have the freedom to be.
At one company, Sutton says, four or five influential employees gathered together and confronted their boss, saying: ”We’ve admired the work you’ve done in the past, but if you don’t change your behavior, we think you should step down.”
It was a risky move, and one that’s not appropriate for every company. But those employees felt OK going with the direct approach, since they knew it was difficult for the boss to fire them.
The experts in the article point out that you have several different options, but you have to choose the one that suits you. A direct confrontation has risks. Going to a third party can backfire. Suffering in silence can just make you miserable. What you choose to do depends on your situation.
A few months ago I asked you to list the qualities of a good boss and many of you did (thanks!). Now that we’re on the flip side of the issue, I’m wondering how many of you have encountered a boss who was mentally checked out. How did you know that your boss had given up on the job and wasn’t just having a bad day? How did you respond?