Tuesday, July 22, 2008

I know why people hate their jobs

A recent careerbuilder.com study of more than 7K American workers reports that 78 percent are burnt out. So I thought to myself, I know why this is going on - and it's not the increased workloads, less employees, blah blah blah.

It's because their bosses suck.

We are in a time of great change right now. The Industrial Age is over, but someone has forgotten to tell the bosses. Until a year ago, I worked for probably the worst boss ever. He did everything wrong. But the two things he did worst were 1) Make sure I was in my seat at all times and 2) Think he knew how to do my job better than I did (he didn't).

However, now I work for a great boss. That's why I know the careerbuilder.com survey is not on the mark. My workload is probably four times what it used to be. But guess what? I'm a telecommuter. I can work when I am most productive. And as long as I meet my outcomes, I have no one making sure I'm in my seat. It is liberating. And I am a happy camper.

So here's the thing: Knowledge workers are not factory workers or fast food workers. Crappy bosses want everyone to make sure that you know you are on their time - and if there's time to lean, there's time to clean. Crappy bosses are also worried about losing their jobs (and they should be, because the Information Age is making them obsolete).

So, if you want your staff to be happy and productive, stop acting like you're Mr. Slate and they're Fred and Barney. Start evaluating based on outcomes, not inputs. And stop being a jerk.


Workingmom said...

You are so right on the mark with this post! I used to have the dream job of working when and where I wanted. I was so much more productive. Now, I have a job I love, but a boss that thinks I need to be in my seat 40 hours a week. It really bogs me down, creatively and productively.

Anonymous said...

Give some people the title, Supervisor or Manager, and sometimes you get instant a-hole. These people think by being mean and pushy, the productivity will be high. It may be, but the quality won't always be there. Great Post!

Anonymous said...

wow--every time I read your blog I think you are right on the money. Again, I agree wholeheartedly. My last job the VP was the "in your seat until 5pm guy." He wouldn't even let me flex my hours by 30 minutes for daycare pickups. He is a boomer, I am, of course, an Xer.

Anonymous said...

This post reminds me of back in the day at my first HR job.

I was 2 years in and starting to have a lot of "aha!" moments (i.e. the text book version of HR does not add value to a company). I was beginning to feel like a true Knowledge Worker - and I was THRILLED!

Then I got an email from the HR Manager telling me and my co-workers (several of whom were exempt, true-blue knowledge workers with years in the field) that each of us needed to create an "SOP binder" for our "workstation".


How about "let's write up some procedural documents in case someone is on vacation and we need to know the sequence of steps in the recruiting process"? If she had said it like that we would have been totally on board. But, instead, her words made us feel like we were just cogs in a machine and didn't have any knowledge at all.

Anonymous said...

Add these to the Jerk boss chapter:

"Now that you're back from vacation and all rested up, whaddaya got for tomorrow?"

"So, you're coming in tomorrow, right?" said to the employee upon learning the wife had just given birth that very day.

"You're a highly paid professional." Which is why the cost of living raise doesn't keep up with the cost of living. If there is such a thing anymore (raise, that is).

"If my staff doesn't hate me, then I'm not doing my job." Principal of the year award, there, let me tell ya. . .

The boss who always slammed my classroom door so it rattled the glass...making her point with me, or with the students? I was never sure. Neither were they.

Jennifer K said...

A boss can really make or break a job. I've had some jobs that weren't that great, but the bosses were such a joy to work with that I didn't mind doing some grunt work. I've also had what seemed to be my dream jobs but the bosses were such nightmares that I was vomiting every morning (waves to Sandy, the boss from hell).