Rx3

Prescription – what you can do when you don’t trust your boss

 

This month we’ve tackled a dysfunction that nearly all of us have encountered at some point in our careers: “I don’t trust my boss.”  I think you would agree me that this is not a fun situation to be a part of.  Whether our boss breaks our trust because he or she is unethical, incompetent, difficult to read, or fails to protect us – once that trust is broken it is hard to regain.  So, what can we do when we don’t trust our boss?  Here’s your prescription – refill as necessary:

Your 90 Day Trust-Management Prescription

  • Keep your boss close – Ever heard the old adage “keep your friends close and your enemies closer?”  I’m not suggesting your boss is your enemy (yet), but I am suggesting that you need to get more face time with him or her.  There are two important reasons for this: 1) it allows you to assess if you were right to not trust him or her by getting a better read on his / her intentions and 2) it prevents you from distancing yourself from your boss and acting as though you don’t trust him / her.  We tend to not trust people that don’t trust us.  Don’t make this a self-fulfilling prophesy by sending “mistrust” signals your boss’ way.  Having lunch with your boss is a good start.
  • Clarify expectations –Mistrust can come when we don’t know what is expected of us and we feel like we are constantly in a state of guessing.  This is the equivalent of going to Vegas and throwing your career on the table.  I don’t know about you, but I always come back from Vegas a loser.  Don’t bet your career.  Ask what is expected of you over the next month / quarter / year.  This can enhance trust by getting you and your boss on the same page.
  • Document everything.  If you notice your boss has the propensity to slip on promises or make sneaky dealings, make sure you are documenting EVERYTHING.  How you might ask?  Put everything in e-mail and save it all.  Confirm promotion schedules in e-mail.  Confirm salary cuts / increases in e-mail.  Even include your general recommendations for the business in e-mail.  Documenting everything serves two purposes.  First, it helps to keep your boss in line and second, it protects you in the event your boss gets caught behaving unethically and an internal investigation ensues.  You don’t want to be mistaken for crew on his or her sinking ship.
  • Determine where you stand.  In absence of communication we always assume the worst.  If you aren’t asking about your standing and if you aren’t hearing anything from your boss, you are likely to assume that you are not in a good position.  This train of thought may also lead you to begin to mistrust your boss even further.  Clear that up by proactively asking.  It will put your mind at ease because you will at least know how he / she perceives your current performance and what you can be doing more of / differently.

A Stronger Prescription – In the Event the First Round of Treatment Doesn’t Work

  • Develop an exit strategy.  As my friends in the entrepreneurial world say, “you should always have an exit strategy.”  Do you have one?  Get one.  This is particularly important if you think your boss is unethical or out to get you.    And if you do observe your boss behaving unethically, you may be putting yourself and your career at serious risk by sticking around.  Not simply because your boss could continue to hurt you by limiting your opportunities and/or stealing from you, but more importantly because you are under their reputational umbrella.  If they go down, your reputation could be stained… permanently.  You could be one of those unfortunate individuals who have Arthur Andersen or Enron on their resumes and are forever defending their reputation.
  • Gang up on your boss – I’ve seen this approach have tremendous impact on a boss.  When his or her entire team comes to him or her as one unit and says “we don’t trust you,” it is a tough message to ignore.  And frankly, no one wants to be seen as untrustworthy by their team.  A facilitator may also help you pull this off so consider that path if you want to ensure your boss hears the message.  However, I would not recommend doing this solo!  The boss could choose to shoot the messenger and you know what that means.
  • Tell on your boss – If things have gone from bad to worse and you experience things in your department escalating to dangerous levels, it may be appropriate to tell your boss’ boss or Human Resources about what is occurring.  However, use this is a last resort.  Consider this the equivalent to major surgery.  There is a chance the patient won’t survive.  That patient could be you.   Make sure you are prepared to make that gamble and you have taken all the necessary precautions (see “Document everything” above).

Finally, be honest with yourself about your mistrust of your boss.  Make sure that you aren’t labeling your boss “untrustworthy” simply because you don’t like their way of approaching their job… or more importantly, because you think you should be the one calling the shots.  That could be a dangerous step in the wrong direction… for you (see last month’s dysfunction “I thought I was a rock star until they let me go”)!

There you have it – the prescription for what you can do when you don’t trust your boss.  It will take discipline, hard work and intention.  Keep it up, be vigilant, make a concerted effort and watch your back… and your front.

Stay tuned to April’s dysfunction of the month – “I’m AFRAID… to make the changes in my career and life that I want to make.”  Who hasn’t felt that?

Rx3

Prescription for Leaders – building trust with your employees / team

This month we’ve tackled a delicate dysfunction “I don’t trust my boss.”  But what if you are the boss?  What can you do to get your team to trust you?   After all, no wants to be seen as untrustworthy –  particularly you.

Building trust is actually a pretty simple formula.  Here it is:

Trust = Credibility + Vulnerability

Credibility - Credibility is not only doing the right thing but doing things the right way.  It is being seen as both ethical as well as competent.
Vulnerability- Vulnerability is most easily associated with your team knowing what you are thinking –  what your motivations and intentions are.  It is closely tied to frequent, open and honest communication.

A simple formula right?  But you and I both know that living it out is easier said than done.  Practically, here is my prescription for you on how you can build greater trust with your team starting today.

Your Weekly Trust-Building Regimen (fill today)

  • Show them your cards – State your intentions, motivations and expectations from your team today.  I often coach clients to think about what they believe is their “management philosophy” – the values that are most important to them at work and in life (for example: growth, respect, responsibility, accountability, family, commitment, etc…).  Pick the top 3-5, write them down and announce them to the team.  This will help the team not only understand you, but also what you expect from them regarding their actions and performance.  A great starting place for building trust.
  •  Tell them what you heard – When you get out of a meeting with the “higher-ups”, you need to be thinking about what from the meeting was relevant for the team and share that information with the team promptly.  Your team will appreciate your consistent and open approach to communication.  However, if you choose not to say anything, your team’s mental wheels  will begin turning and not in the way you would like.  Stop the rumors quickly and get the lines of communication going.  Trust will follow.
  • Keep your word – always – An obvious practice but a critical one.  I had a client tell me that her manager promised her a promotion several years ago.  The deadline came and went.  She continued to press and he continued to avoid her.  It became clear to her that he made a promise he couldn’t or didn’t want to keep.  Perhaps he had a good reason, but in the absence of that explanation, she sees him as a trust-breaker.  She’s done with him and has begun looking for something else.  Keep your word.  That commitment and predictability will foster trust every time.

Your PRN Trust-Building Regimen (to be filled as needed)

  • Address underperformers with lightning speed – We all end up with an underperformer or two on our teams.  That’s not unusual and it’s not your fault.  However, what you do in those situations is critical towards building (or losing) trust.  If you want to enhance your team’s trust in you, you will need to address those issues promptly and properly.  Everyone on the team is watching you closely, hoping and praying that you will swoop in and hold those underperformers accountable.  At the same time, they are also watching to see “how” you do it.  They want the assurance that if they ever slip and end up as the underperformer, they won’t be beaten and thrown in the wood shed.  Address underperformers swiftly with fairness and your team will thank you with higher performance and trust.
  • Protect the team from your boss and your customers – Bet you didn’t see this one coming.  Teams want to know that their leaders have their back.  I can’t tell you how often over the past several years I’ve heard this phrase pop up – “got our back”.  It’s been used to not only describe the principle criteria necessary for a leader to establish trust with a team, but also for the primary reason why teams aren’t trusting leaders today.  To live this out, you’ll need to be able to say “No” to your boss, other leaders in your organization and even customers, particularly when their demands will require stretching the team unrealistically or threatening the team in some way.  Stand up and fight.  Your team will reward you for it.

I wish I could tell you that if you did just a few of the above intermittently, you would be on your way.  But trust doesn’t work that way.  Just like taking any prescription, you can’t “sorta” do parts of it if you want to get better.  It requires intention and commitment.  It’s a lot of work, but trust me, it’s well worth it.

Stay tuned!  Later this week I’ll offer a prescription for how you can build trust with your boss.  Who doesn’t need that?

yelling boss

Trust Breaker #4: My boss doesn’t protect me

Does your boss protect you?  Do you feel like your boss has your back or are you left to fend for yourself at work?  This is a subtle but deadly trust-breaker.  I had a great conversation a few weeks ago about this very topic and here is what was said: “I like my boss as a person.  But every time our corporate office tries to take resources promised to us, rather than protect us and tell them no, he caves every time.  I don’t feel protected and frankly can’t trust him because of it.”

Here are the most common forms this particular “trust-breaker” takes:

My boss can’t tell customers “NO” – Ever wonder if your boss simply doesn’t possess the word “no” in his or her vocabulary?   While innocent at first, the ripple effect of this behavior is ugly.  A consultant recently shared with me this story, “my boss can’t tell the client ‘no.’ His inability to say no wreaks havoc on my personal life.  Let me rephrase that, I have no personal life.  The client project I’m working on keeps expanding.  As a result, I have to keep working more and more hours because my boss can’t put his foot down.  He’s lost all of my trust… and he’s about to lose me.”  Is your boss about to lose you?

- My boss won’t protect me from my co-worker(s) – Do you have an abusive co-worker that you’ve told your boss about?  Has your boss been reluctant to do anything about the co-worker and his / her behavior?  Bet you don’t feel very protected.  Bet you don’t have very high trust in your boss.  Bet you are planning to stick around much longer.

My boss doesn’t fight for me (or us) with the higher-ups – Feel like your boss doesn’t have your back when you aren’t around?  One team shared with me that while they like their boss, they know she won’t fight for them in senior meetings.  “We know that if there is a time for sacrifices, our boss will volunteer us… even if that means our jobs.  We all have our resumes ready and are all looking for something more stable.  She may be alone before she realizes it.”

If your boss won’t fight for you, how do you transform them into a fighter?  And can you?  First, the bad news: unfortunately, I have never seen a case where someone was successful in training their boss to be a fighter.  He or she needs to choose that role.  But there are some ways you can push them to make that choice.  Here are the top two approaches you can take:

  1. Gang up on your boss – I’ve seen tremendous impact on a boss when his or her entire team comes to him or her as one and says “we don’t feel protected by you.”  It’s tough to ignore.  And frankly, no one wants to be seen as untrustworthy by their team.  A facilitator may also help you pull this off so consider that path if you want to ensure your boss hears the message.
  2. Tell your boss what this could cost him / her – Don’t be afraid to tell your boss what it’s costing him or her by not protecting you.  Perhaps you feel like your job is in jeopardy or work has become unreasonably stressful because of their actions.  Have the courage to tell him or her that if it continues, you may have to look for something more stable.  This too might be a good message to deliver as a group if you are concerned as to your boss’ reaction.  Only when your boss clearly sees what their actions could cost him or her will they be more likely to change their ways.

A boss that is unwilling to protect us is not only frustrating to work with, but frankly difficult to trust.  And while we all wish we could send them off to a “Rocky Balboa”-style boot camp that would transform them into a fighter, this transformation is more about will than skill.  But with some teamwork and honest conversations, you can push your boss in the right direction.  So get your colleagues together and prepare your talking points.  There may be a fighter in your boss yet.

Person holding four cards in his hand and pulling one card from

Trust Breaker #3: My boss is difficult to read

Is your boss difficult to read?  Do you feel like interactions with your boss are more like playing poker against someone who is holding their cards close to their chest?  That wondering and guessing about our boss’ intentions can quickly erode into mistrust.  One of the fundamental principles in communication is that in the absence of all communication, people always assume the worst.  Makes sense when you think about it.  Here are the most common forms this particular trust breaker takes:

-          My boss doesn’t talk… or smile… or anything – Ever have a boss that you can’t read?  Maybe they rarely talk or worse, they are expressionless.  Back in my clinical days, we used the term “flat affect” to describe individuals that walked in the world wearing a perpetual poker face.  They had extreme difficulty in forming trust with others, because frankly, no one could tell what they were thinking.

-          My boss “tows the party line” – Does your boss give you a nicely crafted, politically-correct answer to every question you ask?  Do you feel as though you are one of his/her local constituents even though you never voted for him/her?  These bosses lose trust fast because it appears as though they are more concerned with their image and political standing than telling us what they really think / feel.

-          Frankly, my boss is never around – Is your boss never around?  It’s tough to read someone that just isn’t around.  Maybe they are off doing very important work on all of our behalf.  Or perhaps they are squeezing in 18 holes?  Which are you likely to believe when you don’t see your boss around?  Exactly.

If your boss is difficult to read leading to mistrust, there is a solution.  You need to ask the right questions and get the answers you need.  I’m a big believer that there are three big questions that everyone should have an answer to (or at least try hard to get) in order to not only build a trusting relationship with his / her boss but also to be equipped to do his / her job well.  Consider asking these of your boss ASAP:

Question 1: What do you expect of me in the next XXX (month, quarter, year, etc…)?  As you can see, this is a critically important question.  If you don’t know what is expected of you, essentially you are guessing as to what your boss wants.   And with a boss that is difficult to read, you aren’t going off of very much information.  This is the equivalent of going to Vegas and throwing your career on the table.  I don’t know about you, but I always come back from Vegas a loser.  Don’t bet your career.  Ask.

Question 2: What’s expected of YOU (the boss that is)?  I ask every one of my coaching clients the same question “do you know what is expected of your boss this month, quarter, year?”  At this point, I have not gotten one “yes” response.  This question is important because if we know what is expected of our boss, we not only know how to better support him / her but also we get a better understanding of the pressures on him or her and why they might be doing what they are doing – hence improving our understanding and trust in our boss.

Question 3: Where do I stand?  Do you know where you stand?  In absence of communication we always assume the worst.  So, naturally, if you aren’t asking about your standing and if you aren’t hearing anything from your boss, you are likely assuming you are not in a good position.  Clear that up by proactively asking.  It will put your mind at ease and it will enhance your trust in him / her because you will at least know how he / she perceives your current performance and what you can be doing more of / differently.

Bosses that are tricky to read are no fun to work with.  They get our imagination working as we try to fill in the gaps and for many of us, when our imagination takes hold, horror stories get conjured up with us as the next victim in line.  Address this vacuum head on by asking the questions and owning the conversation.  The good news is that the solution rests in each of our hands.  The not-so-good news is that if we wait on our boss to start the conversation, we may be waiting a long time.  Of course, there is always the annual performance review, right?  Don’t get me started on that dysfunctional process.  Trust me, I’ve got a whole month planned for performance reviews.  What a mess…

Check out the video:  3 Critical Conversations for Building Trust with Your Boss

© elkor 2009

Trust Breaker #2: My boss is incompetent

Is your boss incompetent?  Do you get nervous every time he or she gets their hands in the decision-making process?  Now that’s not to say he or she is a bad person.  Many times when we have a boss we deem “incompetent,” it doesn’t mean we dislike him or her.  We just don’t trust their ability to make the “right” decision given their role and responsibilities.  Think of Michael Scott from the T.V. show “The Office.”  A nice enough guy, but not someone we would trust to place our order at a drive thru let alone decisions that impact our careers.  Here are some of the most common reasons we deem a boss incompetent:

- They don’t “get” what we do around here – This is more common with bosses that come from the “outside.”  It is important that we acknowledge that a boss doesn’t necessarily need to know how to do your job better than you.  A boss’ job is to manage the people and resources under his or her care.  However, when a boss walks into a culture, environment or industry that they just don’t get, bad things can happen.  Particularly, when they don’t acknowledge the differences and they try to do things the way they have always done it.  Scary.

What exactly do they “do” all day long? – Ever wonder what your boss actually does all day long?  I remember working with an organization that shared that opinion of their unit President.  All day he was holed up in his office staring intently at his computer screen, but rarely interacting with anyone outside of his four walls.  Turns out he was busy day trading online… every day, all day.  If it’s not clear what your boss is doing, you’ll probably assume the worst.  Hopefully you aren’t right.

- The decisions they make are downright scary – Does your boss make very poor decisions – regarding people, priorities, well… everything?  Do you ever feel like the office actually runs “better” when the boss is not around?  Do you find yourself trying to address issues without your boss knowing so it can be handled the “right way?”  Bob qualified as one such boss.  He was running an organization that traditionally served a geographic region in the U.S.   Bob decided, with no clear reason (or supporting evidence) that the organization needed to expand beyond its small region – to begin serving an obscure country in the Middle East.  Years, countless trips and resources later, the organization is still scratching its head at that decision… and at Bob.

So what do you do?  Your boss is incompetent and doesn’t appear to be going anywhere anytime soon.  Here are two steps you can take:

Step 1: Understand your boss – the first step is to understand what your boss wants to do with his or her time, what he or she values at work and what are his or her strengths.  This is important so you can begin to get a better understanding of how he or she thinks and acts.  Great questions to ask your boss are:

“What do you think is the best use of your time?”
“What do you think we need to change around here?”
“What would you list as your greatest strengths?”
“Where do you see us as a group going?”

Note: Notice I didn’t ask detail-related questions on how they want to interact with the day to day business (Ex: “what decisions do you want to be a part of?”).  When you ask detail-related questions, you run the risk that they say they want involvement in everything.  Not want you want to hear so don’t ask.

Step 2: Manage your boss – the next step is to help to manage your boss so that he or she can spend time on what they want to be doing and you can be getting done what needs to get done.  Connect what you see as the needs of the group with what the boss wants to do.  For example, maybe it’s o.k. that they stay out of the office on Fridays to meet with customers (or do whatever it is they do).  Then you can actually get some of the work done that needs to get done.  Here’s the takeaway: you can’t remove the “incompetence” from your boss but what you can do is remove the unpredictable nature of your boss and contain their actions and impact.

Step 3: Be honest with yourself – Be honest with yourself about your labeling of your boss.  Make sure that you aren’t labeling your boss “incompetent” simply because you wouldn’t do something the way they did… or more importantly, because you think you should be the one with their job.  That could be a dangerous step in the wrong direction… for you (see last month’s dysfunction “I thought I was a rock star until they let me go”)!

Incompetent bosses break trust, not because they are bad people, but because they are bad decision-makers.  With a little effort, understanding and management you can contain the problem… but you won’t likely be able to eliminate it.  And sometimes containing the problem is enough.

Perhaps that month long trip to the Middle East your boss is planning to take isn’t such a bad idea after all.

shell game

Trust Breaker #1: My boss is unethical

Is your boss a liar, a cheat, a swindler or just plain sneaky in how he or she operates?  This is the most common and clear way a boss can break our trust.  But beyond the secret conversations, hidden bank accounts, broken promises and back-office deals, what are some of the more subtle things a boss can do that would prove to be unethical?  And how can we tell?  Here are a few good warning signs:

  • How does your boss treat your co-workers?  If your boss is playing nice with you, but back-stabbing your co-workers, be warned.  While we might like to think we are special, the reality is that we are likely no different than our co-workers.  Your boss just simply hasn’t gotten to you yet.
  •  How does your boss choose vendors and / or make deals with outsiders?  Does your boss have a “fair” process for deciding who is going to win his / her business or is the decision based on who has the best box seats, similar collegiate affiliations, and mutual back-scratching?  If those are the rules they are playing by with outsiders, what happens if they apply those same rules internally?  Can you play… or more importantly, do you want to?
  • Does your boss keep the BIG promises?  I’m not talking about little promises that bosses make that get broken (Ex: he or she can’t meet with you for lunch due to a last minute conflict, he/she couldn’t make the conference call or meeting because of an emergency, etc…).  I’m talking about the BIG promises.  Did your boss promise you a promotion, raise or significant opportunity and now pretends as if that conversation never happened?  If that is the case, watch out.  This may be the beginning of a pattern in which they make you false promises in order to string you along, ultimately keeping you at your current position for as long as they possibly can.
  • Does your boss cut your salary in order to increases his / her own?   If you are being asked to forgo your bonus or take a pay cut, watch carefully and listen closely to see if you boss is doing likewise.  My favorite story related to this behavior involves a seasoned attorney at a law firm who was told that she needed to take a pay cut despite her performance and years of service to the firm.  It was explained to her that the economy had taken a significant toll on the firm’s overall book of business.  Reasonable enough, right?  A few days later she noticed that the firm’s admin inadvertently left copies of the partners’ bonus checks next to the copier.  She quickly found out where her pay cut went.  Don’t just assume the boss is reciprocating your sacrifice.  Ask. 

So what can you do?  This is a potentially sticky situation that we need to address carefully and discretely.  I never recommend getting into a bar fight with an unethical boss.  They play dirty.  However, there are two good steps you can take:

Step 1: Document everything.  If you notice your boss has the propensity to slip on promises or make sneaky dealings, make sure you are documenting EVERYTHING.  How you might ask?  Put everything in e-mail and save it all.  Confirm promotion schedules in e-mail.  Confirm salary cuts / increases in e-mail.  Even include your recommendations on vendor choices in e-mail.  This serves two purposes.  First, it helps to keep your boss in line and second, it protects you in the event your boss gets caught and an internal investigation ensues.  You don’t want to be mistaken for crew on his or her sinking ship.

Step 2: Develop an exit strategy.  As my friends in the entrepreneurial world say, “you should always have an exit strategy.”  Do you have one?  Get one.  The odds of making an unethical person change their stripes are virtually non-existent.  You may be wonderful in your own right, but if you think you can help your boss “see the light,” you may be just as delusional as they are.  More importantly, depending on the degree of unethical behavior, you may be putting yourself and your career at serious risk by sticking around.  Not simply because your boss could continue to hurt you by limiting your opportunities and/or stealing from you, but more importantly because you are under their reputational umbrella.  If they go down, your reputation could be stained… permanently.  You could be one of those unfortunate individuals who have Arthur Andersen or Enron on their resumes and forever are defending their reputation and arguing their innocence.

Dealing with an unethical boss is no laughing matter.  It won’t go away easily and likely won’t get better.  Just be sure to take the necessary steps to ensure that you have some distance and adequate cover from their eventual implosion.  Trust me, it won’t be pretty.

ManThinkingatDesk

Should you trust your boss?

Should you trust your boss?   That’s a big question, and you might be surprised by my answer – “No, you shouldn’t trust your boss.”  Let me explain.  The problem exists in how we define “trust.”  Too often, we define “trusting our boss” in a way that places unrealistic expectations on him / her.  We expect our boss to be competent, ethical and moral in his or her behaviors – not an unrealistic request.  But we don’t stop there.  In addition, we usually expect our boss to be thinking about our interests and putting us “first” (or close to it) when they make decisions that may affect us.  That’s where the wheels of our logic begin to come off.  Bosses, just like the rest of us, are going to make decisions based on what’s important to him and her.  This begs a good question: “what is important to your boss?”  If we were to look inside your boss’ head, here is the list of priorities that we would likely find:

The Priorities Inside Your Boss’ Head (In Order):

  1. Themselves – Research on power has shown that when people are given power, they have a strong tendency to elevate their own needs and interests above those of others.  Frightening, huh?  But a reality.  Your boss is likely prioritizing his or her needs above everyone else’s on the team.  This category also includes your boss’ family and personal responsibilities.  Junior’s soccer game is likely going to come before your request to celebrate your anniversary with your spouse.
  2.  Their Reputation – Protecting one’s organizational reputation is a high priority for anyone – particularly for bosses that have become ever more active in the politics of the office.  Your boss is going to be more prone to protect his or her “rep” than to protect yours.
  3.  Their Boss – It is human nature to try to please our boss.  We learn it early on when we desperately work to please our own parents.  This basic human drive is not only rooted in meeting emotional and self worth needs but it is also based on the realization we all arrive at that whoever holds the purse strings will ultimately determine if we can get that candy bar in the check-out line… or that raise at work.  Your boss is likely to prioritize his or her boss’ needs / expectations over yours for this reason.  An obvious reality that hits home when we see it in print.
  4.  Their Customers – However your boss defines his / her customers, I promise you that they likely will prioritize their customers’ needs over yours.  After all, one of a boss’ biggest responsibilities is to manage workflow and make decisions in order to meet customer needs and expectations.  This is true regardless of the kind of organization in which you and your boss live (Ex: non-profits, for-profit companies, religious organizations, government entities, colleges / universities, etc…).  We all have customers that we serve.  Your boss knows that and prioritizes accordingly.
  5.  YOU… well, after the team that is – And finally we come to the team… and you.  Yes, your boss knows that he/she needs to manage his or her team well and care for the team if they are to achieve the above objectives well.  And yes, your boss understands keeping the team happy, motivated and engaged is important – at least they might have read that somewhere once.  But, as you can see, it is not “top of the list.”

Here’s the takeaway from this exercise, your boss has a lot of priorities on his / her list that rank higher than you.  Where we go wrong is that we want to trust our boss so fully that we put him / her high up on our priority list (see #3 above) and expect reciprocity… if not more.  We want to be #1 on their list (or at least close) and then we proceed to punish our boss when we aren’t.  Unfortunately, that version of mutual trust just isn’t going to happen, at least in most cases.  If your boss has to choose between you and any of the items above you on the preceding list, the reality is that they will NOT choose you.

So, where do we go with this?  Simply put, don’t trust your boss with everything.  As a good colleague told me, “It is my responsibility to own my career, not my boss’.  And frankly, I wouldn’t want them to.”  Your career, your personal / professional growth and your personal life / personal responsibilities are yours and only yours to own and manage.  You are the only one you should trust in those domains.  Where you should be able to trust your boss is in the domain of daily work.  It is reasonable to expect and trust that your boss does what he/she says they are going to do.  It is also reasonable to expect and trust your boss to not be a hindrance to your ability to get your daily work done.  Think of the physician’s Hippocratic Oath of “first, do no harm.”  At minimum, your boss should be operating on that level with you as well as with everyone else on your team.

So, in a nutshell, trust your boss based on this limited definition, and remember not to “give away the farm” and expect too much.

Next week, I’ll address the very legitimate ways bosses lose our trust and some of the warning signs that your boss may have crossed the line.  Stay tuned!

trust_boss_graphic_317

“I don’t trust my boss”

I Don't Trust My BossDo you trust your boss?  More importantly, should you trust your boss?  And if you are the boss, do your people trust you?  What can you do?  All good questions that we will be tackling this month as we take on an all-too-common (and very dangerous) dysfunction – “I don’t trust my boss.”  So why does this matter?  Research has shown that in environments where trust is high – particularly with one’s boss, there is a strong correlation with high performance.  In addition, research has also shown that when trust is low at work, the toll taken on not only our performance, but our mental and emotional well-being is equally high.  And frankly, who wants to work in an environment where they believe they have to watch their back… particularly when the boss is around?

This month, we will tackle this dysfunction: “I don’t trust my boss.”  Throughout the month we’ll cover, amongst other things:

  • Should I trust my boss?
  • What are reasons why I may not trust my boss? … And could it be me?
  • If I am the boss, what can I do to build trust with my team?
  • If I don’t trust my boss, what can I do?

Every Monday, I’ll kick off our conversation for the week by addressing one of these big questions.  Throughout the week I’ll collect and share stories, examples and other opinions as we dig in.  By the end of the month, if we haven’t cured this dysfunction, we’ll do a darn good job treating it!

So, write to me with your stories, examples or opinions on the subject.  I promise to protect the innocent (and guilty!).

And off we go!