The first few years in:
Rolling out of bed without fear of another day. Greeting my coworkers with a “Good morning,” and a smile. Striving my best to help out whenever I was able. Being proud that I was chosen to take on work from different departments.
Over ten years later:
Stabbing the snooze button on my phone as many times as possible. Grumbling as I ran a few minutes late through the door without so much as a glance toward others. Dreading the boss coming to my door in fear of yet another project. Hating the fact that I seemed to be the only one capable of doing my job… along with everyone else’s job too.
My, how things have changed.
Respect goes a long way, so does appreciation.
So, why then does it seem to be in such short supply? I’m not talking about a supervisor lavishing praise on employees daily over simple things, but basic respect and courtesy.
I’ve scoured countless articles and they all say the same. A little recognition and a sprinkling of respect for each employee as a person can make a company soar and minimize turnover. And yet I’ve worked at offices where the lackluster employees are free of doing work when the star performer is forced to pick up any slack with only a not-so-subtle reminder that there are several who would gladly take their place.
Where does this behavior come from?
In my mind, if I have a good employee that works harder than anyone else I would want to keep them happy to the best of my ability. Not overload them with more work they can handle or treat them like a slave that picks up after others.
And yet, this is what happens. Over and over again.
Good performers shine and their bright light attracts the steady gaze of shitty bosses that just want things done no matter the cost.
If you want something done, ask a busy person to do it. — Lucille Ball
The quote above gets tossed around in offices, usually with the boss sarcastically laughing before slamming a pile of work on your desk that so-and-so was supposed to finish yesterday. Then said boss tries to stroke the dependable employee’s ego by saying something like, “Well you’re so good at what you do. You know no one else could do it correctly.” And a quip about almost doing you a favor by dumping the work on you, something to the effect of, “I can’t give this work to Shitty Coworker because they would make a mess out of it and you’d just have it fix it, anyway.”
Not in your office? Maybe just mine then. If you’re the busy person, you’ll understand how much this “funny” quote singes your nerves.
But what can we do, really?
Say no to more work? Yeah, that only works if you’re valued in the first place. Run for the hills? And do what? Get another job with the same bosses in a different environment?
See? This is how bad bosses and performance punishment kill you. Maybe not literally, but on the inside, it dulls you down; it makes you pessimistic. You carry the fear and the hurt with you, almost like job PTSD.
I’ve read article after article telling employees in these less than stellar situations to speak up and ask for what you want and/or to speak with a higher boss regarding your situation. And as a last resort, march to HR.
All these recommendations sound great and can work — if you are around bosses and other coworkers that are willing to help you. In my experience, especially in small offices, it just doesn’t work this way. Bosses want things done — period — who cares if one employee gets stuck with everything. Not all companies have HR departments, so no luck there. Some bosses would rather lead like a dictator and have their employees shut up — don’t ask questions — just do whatever is asked of them; even if it isn’t just.
I admit, I’m probably suffering from a negative bias because of my experiences in multiple workplaces as being the only go-to person and being saddled with extra work and no extra pay (even though I asked) while others, proven to be not so great employees, are allowed to fake ignorance just so they don’t have to do the work
It’s great to be the office hero… until it isn’t.
Until you see bosses all around you, from different departments even, assign you their staff’s work and your own supervisor allowing it and hinting that you are the whiny employee for speaking up for yourself.
Not everyone can walk away from a less than ideal, dare I say, toxic environment. I feel for those employees and hope with all my heart that they can find something more fitting before the negativity rips away all the goodness inside.
If anyone else out there is feeling the same, feeling like you want to scream as soon as you walk through your office door, please, find a way to get out of the situation. I’ve been in this soul-draining predicament and it eats away at your confidence and self-worth. Bad bosses won’t change and suddenly see you’re valuable. Not all workplaces are run by rude jerks, or so I’m told.
No One is Coming to Save You From a Job You Hate
Be your own hero and save yourself. Go on, wear the cape.
Maybe eventually if we demand respect, even if we are shown the door, enough times employers will start to see we aren’t just a replaceable commodity, but a person worth consideration and decency.
What are your experiences? What makes a bad boss? What makes a good boss?