Less than 1% of commenters from our previous article had something positive to say about their current role, company, or the leadership. The other 1,200+ provided a laundry list of reasons why management stinks. It’s easy to place the blame solely on the boss. They are the ones responsible for company policies and procedures, creating the corporate climate, handing out promotions, and determining compensation, right?

There are certainly cases of atrocious bosses who rule with an iron fist, leading to a compulsive turnover. However, over 20 years of experience in the recruiting industry has taught me, the ‘truth’ lies somewhere in the middle.

You’re the Reason Your Job Sucks

Is your boss really to blame? 

Like Baskin Robbins, bosses come in more than 31 flavors. Whether you are blessed with the ideal communicator (or cursed with an authoritative tyrant) understanding and learning to play well with your boss will make your work day and life better. Learn more about your manager’s management style, personality, strengths and weaknesses.  Discovering how to engage and get the best out of your boss will not only help your work day go considerably smoother but your long-term career as well. Become more in touch with your own work style and personality flaws and strengths. Like a big family, every member of your team has his or her own quirks. Helping your boss understand yours will help him play better with you. Engaging with your boss on a deeper level will help him or her understand how to get the best out of you. Remember: Few bosses have mind-reading abilities.

Do they know you want more?

Leadership can’t give you what you don’t ask for. More importantly, you can’t ask for the things you yourself haven’t identified. Most employees have a 5-year plan outlining their rise through the ranks, skills and experiences they want to acquire, and a compensation level they expect to achieve. But do you know what it will take to get that promotion? Assuming management will design and execute your plan is ridiculous- and we all know what it makes you. Take ownership of your goals. Want to become team leader? Pay attention to the people who hold that title now. What education and experience are you missing and how can you fill those gaps? Create a clearly outlined process you plan to put in place to help you reach your goals and communicate that plan with your manager. Make it clear that you have goals and a plan to help you get there.

Is it really a better job?

69% of employees leave their current role for a better one. But is it really better? Before you jump ship, remember that a “good” job is defined by more than “good” money. Take a moment to outline the pros and cons of your job. You may not like your boss, but how much do you actually interact with him or her? Will your next company allow you the flexible schedule you currently enjoy or provide career development opportunities? Taking a closer look at the positive aspects of your current role gives you a little distance from the negatives you know all to well (and probably focus on daily). It also helps you prioritize the things that matter, highlighting the things you might be willing to live with or without to get some other benefits. In the end, you may decide to part ways with your current employer, but you’ll know exactly what you’re leaving behind.

Do you really deserve a pat on the back?

Everyone deserves recognition for a job well done. But should you be rewarded for simply doing your job? Isn’t that what your salary is for? It is reasonable for employers to expect their employees to work hard and complete tasks and projects within their job description. Saying ‘thank you’ is a common courtesy that should not be overlooked. But receiving accolades and perks for simply doing your job is an unreasonable expectation. Before you label your boss an unappreciative jerk, ask yourself this: Are you doing more than is expected or the bare minimum?

Have you looked in the mirror lately?

Toxic coworkers undermine productivity and workplace cohesiveness. The office gossip or the team member who constantly takes credit for other people’s hard work make will destroy even the best manager’s team building. Just like blaming the management for your unhappiness, it’s easy to blame everyone else for being caught up in office drama. But what role are you playing in the brouhaha? If you continually find yourself in the middle of the mayhem, it’s entirely possible it’s no accident. Even though your involvement stems from the best intentions, you may very well be the common denominator and unknowing (or knowing) fan to the flames.

Are you saying ‘yes’ when you should be saying ‘no’?

If you are consistently the last one out the door at the end of the day and your To Do list is never complete, it’s easy to assume you are carrying the weight of the “slackers” in your office. This is not necessarily true. It is just as likely that you are not managing your time well. How often do you check Facebook “real quick”? Are ‘meetings’ with coworkers more like social hour? Staying on task and working efficiently are essential work characteristics not to be underrated. Life is full of opportunities, and you don’t want to miss out, but are you saying “yes” too often? Taking on more challenging work to expand your skill set or propel you up the corporate ladder is commendable. If you end up saying yes to all of it, you can easily end up overcommitted and stressed out. The quality of your work (and your down time) should not fall victim to the quantity. There will be times you have to say ‘no’ when asked to take on extra work.

How often are you checking your email? 

Outside of an emergency or impending deadline, there is no reason management should be contacting you after hours. The expectation that employees are always ‘on’ is unreasonable and employees have every right to speak up. However, many bosses send emails to employees who have set a precedent of responding at any hour. Some may argue there is an unspoken expectation that employees are always available. We argue that many employees have become compulsive email checkers, sending the message to management that they are willing to be available at all times. Unless your boss has explicitly told you that after-hours emails, texts, and phone calls are part of your job description, do not respond when he/she reaches out. Draw your own boundaries and stick to them.

It’s easy to feel you have no control of your work environment when you are not in a position of leadership. Adopting a ‘victim mentality’ is quite common. The truth is, you might have a lot more control than you exercise. First and foremost, you have control over your own behavior. So before you point your finger at your terrible boss, turn the mirror around and take a look at what you might be doing to contribute to your misery. More than likely, you’ll find the truth is somewhere in the middle and there are changes you can make to improve your situation… even if it’s only while you look for a new job.

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