I truly want to work happier, but I feel stuck. I received your email last week about being a great leader. I’m sad to say that my boss is a true jerk. I’ve tried to talk to him, but he is always too busy or when I try to speak up he just cuts me off. There is no way he would ever ask for my feedback. I feel lost. I have a young child and I really don’t want to look for another job. I like my work, but I don’t know how much longer I can stand working for my boss.
Thanks for whatever advice you can give,
Struggling at Work
Here is a nice supplement to this article – 7 Proven Ways to Encourage Employee Happiness and Engagement
Here is my reply (An open reply to all the bosses who fail to listen to their employees problems and ideas).
Dear Struggling at Work,
I’ve been in your position before.
My first boss out of college who wouldn’t listen to me and also kept putting me down. After researching a company shirt for him he wanted an update, so I went into his office.
After one minute of explaining the different local print shops we could use, he held up his hand for me to stop talking.
He asked me if the sizes come in Double XL. I wasn’t sure. I told him I could go and find out.
He shook his head, looked down into his lap, then at me and said I could have a monkey do a better job on this project.
He killed my confidence with that one sentence.
I share this with you because I’m a proud man, but as a young man I was afraid to stick up for myself. No one deserves to be treated that way and I didn’t have the confidence to be strong.
Every time I would try to present an idea he would brush me off. He didn’t even try to pretend like he listened to me. He just ignored most of my ideas.
I wish I could share with you that eventually I stuck up for myself and my boss respected me. This never happened.
I worked there for two years and hated working for him the whole time I was there.
I was lucky to have a great manager, in another department, that helped guide me. He hated to see me leave the company, but he supported me.
That was over fifteen years ago.
Now I’m much more confident and willing to speak up. It’s taken a lot of practice, but so worth my energy.
My hope is that you have or can find someone who can help guide you a work, someone in a different department, HR, a mentor, or a coach.
I realize that many bosses aren’t very good listeners, but that doesn’t mean we can’t make improvements in the working world. Bosses and managers should seek training to improve their listening skills and be better coaches to their employees.
They need people like you to lead the way. They need someone to say you aren’t very good at this right now, but I know you have the talent to be a great leader.
I know it’s hard to step up and say something difficult and maybe feels impossible, but it’s not. Boss by boss and manager by manager we can encourage them to be better listeners so they create a happier work culture. When they understand that with improving their listening and communication skills they will help build a stronger team.
Real improvements in the workplace cultures through America and other top down managed cultures need a wake up call. They must know that these bad habits can’t continue.
You don’t need to do this one your own. You have a lot of power if you are willing to ask for help.
For example you could ask for help within your company. You could seek help and advice from someone outside the company as well, to see if they’ve been through something similar and how they improved their situation.
They probably have.
When we are willing to go find help and be a little vulnerable that’s when we can work on improving ourselves and our career.
How do you find the strength to ask for help when you need it the most?
Would you like to improve your leadership skills? Then take a look at how I help people with my leadership coaching program. I’m taking applications for next month.