How Many Need A New Boss?

business outlook

How many need a new boss? How many need a new boss right away? You are fine with the organisation were you work…you only wish for a boss change. It would surprise you to know that if this question were asked within your department, even your boss would raise his hands! In my opinion, I need a new boss is the second highest wish within our organisations – coming a close second to I need a salary increase. This may also explain why studies have shown that the reason a lot of people leave an organisation is because they want to bolt away from a particular boss.

Does this picture describe your boss? Assumes employees are inherently lazy and will avoid work if they can and that they also inherently dislike work. As a result of this, believes that workers need to be closely supervised and comprehensive systems of controls developed. Believes employees will show little ambition without an enticing incentive program and will avoid responsibility whenever they can. Relies on threat and coercion to gain employee’s compliance.  Consciously or unconsciously creates an environment of mistrust, highly restrictive supervision, and a punitive atmosphere. Tends to believe that everything must end in blaming someone. He or she thinks all prospective employees are only out for themselves. Usually these managers feel the sole purpose of the employee’s interest in the job is money. They will blame the person first in most situations, without questioning whether it may be the system, policy, or lack of training that deserves the blame (ref. wikipedia). In essence a Theory X supervisor.

Does this better describe your boss? Takes all the credit. Domineering. Very impatient. Poor listener. Doesn’t seek your opinion. Or seeks your opinion only to still over-ride them most of the time. Uses words that dampen your self-esteem. Unapproachable. Hardly commends you when you do things right, even when he didn’t give any guidance; but would come down heavily on you on the slightest of misdeeds. Abusive. Vindictive. Intimidates. Never admits been wrong. Knows everything. Dishes out commands – rarely dialogues. In essence a command and control manager.

The End of Command and Control!

Change often creeps on us unnoticed. IBM defended the world of main-frame computers, ignoring the signals of the arrival of the smaller PC – they never regained their leadership position. The workplace has undergone and continues to undergo a lot of changes that if we aren’t careful may catch us napping. There was a time when to get a phone line in Nigeria required you to be ‘connected’. How would you expect to just get a line – just like that! Until GSM companies came and now even the yam seller on the road to your village has a phone. NITEL woke up too late. There was a time when to listen to music required you to have a gramophone, before we moved on to 8-track cartridges. Then came cassette tapes, followed by CDs and with this the likes of Sony dominated the markets with the Walkman and Discman. They never anticipated the arrival and the proliferation of the iPod. Did Sony ever recover?

Change does creep on us unnoticed. Changes in the society and the world of work are fundamentally changing the bossing model. But like Hem and Haw in Who Moved My Cheese, some people are yet to realise that the cheese has moved. The Hem among us would never know what hit them and would recover too late, while for some like Haw, this article is a wake-up call. The shakings within global markets have toppled some of the better known organisations and demystified entire markets and business assumptions. The shakings within the local capital market and the banking sub-sector have changed the faces of the players and the rules of the game; bringing with it a humbling re-learning of the impermanence of humanity and her structures. With increased globalisation – the world being one big village – no one can successfully isolate himself … for so long. There is a diffusion of capital, talent, and ideas from one corner of the earth to the other. In Nigeria for instance, not only do we have an increase of foreign CEOs and C-suite executives, we also now have more foreigners in the workplace and  lot more returnee-Nigerian professionals. Implication? The local workforce is globalizing – in composition and therefore (just a matter of time) also in thought and deed.

Change has crept on us unnoticed. The composition of the workplace, beyond ethnicity, has also changed and continues to change – we now have an admixture of baby boomers, generation X, Y and Z in the workplace. In a 2008 discussion led by two senior Deloitte Consulting LLP Human Capital professionals, one of the questions raised was “What is the ratio of the different generations in the current workplace in the United States?  The answer. “Veterans/Matures (born before 1946) are about 5 percent of the current work force. Boomers (between 1946 and 1964) are about 45 percent. X-ers (1965–1981) are anywhere from 35 percent to 45 percent. And then Y-ers/Millennials (1982–2000) are gaining ground. They’re around 15 percent right now, just having entered the professional work world in the last three to four years”. Even though the statistics for Africa and Nigeria are lacking at least we get the point. With each of these generations comes different expectations, attitudes and approaches. As Yer and Zer employees increase, so would the need for much more partnerships between supervisors and employees and less of the bossing model – the old roger is dead and gone to the grave.

According to industry watchers, the newer generations have shades of some of the following characteristics:

  • Motivated by Causes, not Companies. They have been told they can make a difference and are determined that their efforts will have a positive influence.
  • Prepared to Change Jobs. Possess the free agent mind set, which values personal experience over job stability.
  • Expressive, but Blunt. Values self-expression more than self-control. You can expect them to speak their minds. They don’t necessarily have trouble respecting authority, but they won’t automatically be impressed by age or a title.
  • Fast, but Impatient. They are more likely to respond to a daily challenge than be motivated by a long-term goal.
  • Anxious for Feedback. Regular communication, both formal and casual, will go a long way towards establishing rapport and trust.
  • Techno Savvy. Access to technology — and the freedom to use it in innovative ways — holds enormous appeal.
  • High-performance and High maintenance. There is no denying they are well trained, but they also have come to expect constant learning experiences, new challenges, and a steady diet of meaningful input.
  • More responsibility. Desires more responsibility earlier.


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