Several weeks ago, one of my clients had a conflict with her boss.
She contacted me on the phone and she told me that it becomes more clear each day that she and her boss cannot communicate together. She told me I do not even see that we share the same values or principles.
She also told me that she wants to report his behavior to upper management.
So, I asked her: ‘’How long has your boss been working in this company?’’
And she answered ‘’ A lot of years.’’
I asked her again: ‘’And is his bad behavior only with you or with others also?’’
And she answered ‘’With others also. Why are you asking?’’
I told her ‘’Because if he is working for long years in this company and he already made other people angry, then most probably his behavior is known inside the company. And if he is keeping his position until now, then this means that no one cared to take action against him. So the question now is, why should the upper management now suddenly care when you report his behavior?’’
Then I added: ‘’Reporting him, will only make the situation worse between both of you without a real solution. Plus, you have first to prepare a backup plan before doing this activity.’’
She sat silent for a few seconds and then she said ‘’You have a point. But then let me ask you, If reporting my boss will not lead to a true change, then how can a true change start inside a company?’’
I answered her ‘’ True change can start in one of two directions. Either up-down or down-up. If the CEO’s behavior is good and he cares about his employees and the internal culture, then you will see the signs everywhere inside the company. Starting from the behavior of the executives that he chooses, the criteria of choosing employees for leadership roles, and until you reach the level of how new employees are being selected. This is the up-down approach. The other approach is the down-up which means that normal employees leverage their combined power to force a positive change.’’
For example, what can trigger decision makers to act faster? An angry employee from his boss? Or a team that agreed to take action together as one unit and report a boss with bad behavior?
Governments change because of the power of people. Rules and constitutions change because of the power of people. Presidents of countries win or lose because of the power of people. But suddenly, in the work environment, people forget all of this and prefer to shut up and stay silent, and when you speak with them about why they are silent against wrong behaviors they give you answers such as ‘’I do not want to lose my job’’, or ‘’if I lost this job because my boss got angry, I will not find money to put bread on the table’’ and all of these sentences which weakens humans instead of truly empowering them.
After you heard this story, now I want to summarize the actions that you can take in a pragmatic way if you ever passed through a similar situation.
The first thing that you usually need to do, is to speak to the person directly. So if you have a problem with your boss, then just go and speak with him. How to do that and what to say, you can find this information in my previous article which is called ‘’how to handle a bad boss?’’
What I will speak about now, is how to try to make a change if you failed to reach an agreement with your boss and you still want to stay in the company.
First, ask yourself ‘’How long has he worked here?’’
Second, ask yourself ‘’Is he or she behaving this way with me only or with a lot of other people?’’
If the answers for these 2 questions showed that he is working for this company since a lot of years and that his bad behavior is a general one and with others also, then there is no need to report his behavior because it will not solve the problem.
Third, check who else inside the team or department is disturbed by this behavior and is willing to speak up. Aim to get as many people on your side as possible and not less than 5 or 6 people.
Why 5 or 6 people? To give you a sense of safety. I will now speak the same language that you use. Let us imagine that you are afraid to speak up because you are afraid to get fired. And maybe this is correct. Do you think a company can fire a whole team or department or 6 people at the same time? Not only this, the more that you get allies, the more that the message will be amplified and your voice will be heard and reach higher people. This is the power of people.
But remember, always make your voice heard and speak up in a respectful way and in a good manner that does not stop or delay the business. You are not going to a fight. You are just going to report something that you dislike and to discuss a solution with the upper management. Nothing more than that. And this is normal because we are humans. And humans are different. And as long as we deal with each other, then problems will always occur. Sometimes these problems can be solved easily and directly between the involved people. And sometimes we need the support and wisdom of others. That’s what you have to keep in mind.
Fourth, Give yourself some time or set a deadline. And if you do not see any change in the behavior of this boss, then start searching for another job in silence either inside the company or outside, and when you find something suitable, leave.
Most change efforts die inside companies because people are not willing to speak up. And if they speak up, they speak as individuals or each person speaks alone. And if they speak as individuals and get ignored, they accept the status as it is and continue suffering in silence, which is a huge mistake. That's why the upper management usually does not bother to make a true change or to change a bad boss if his behavior is bad especially if his performance is high.
But imagine this situation. You protest a bad behavior you and your colleagues together. You give a chance to the management to take the necessary actions, and if after a few months you do not see a change, you leave. And then you were followed by another colleague and another and another. The management will find themselves in a situation that they have to take corrective actions immediately in order not to stop the business, because of the number of people leaving and to prevent others from leaving also.
But as I said before, unfortunately, people do not do this. They underestimate their power and overestimate the power of others.
Do not underestimate yourself. Do not let anyone make you believe in pathetic illusions such as ‘’anyone can be replaced.’’, or ‘’they can fire us.’’, or ‘’I will never find another job because the economy is bad.’’...etc.
Yes, the economy is sometimes bad, but you will still find another job.
Yes, they can fire you, but in some cases firing, you can be a blessing because it will push you to act and do things that you never had the courage to do by yourself.
And yes, anyone can be replaced. But the outcome will never be the same. I always say ‘’If you want to move from point A to point B, then you can walk, take a bicycle or a car. All of these ways will make you reach point B. But the speed, the effort, and the costs will never be the same. And this is the same for employees. You can replace an employee with another who can do the same tasks. But the efficiency, creativity, and speed will most probably not be the same. Because people are different and they have different skills, attitudes and behaviors. So please do not listen to anyone who is trying to treat you bad or make you feel like a commodity instead of feeling unique.
This was my opinion and now it's your turn to share yours. Did you pass through a similar situation before? Did you resolve it? And if yes, then how did you resolve it?
Share with us your thoughts in the comments section below.