With a boss like Boris Johnson, would you stay or would you quit? Amana Walker on dealing with bad bosses
As the prime minister hangs on, Amana Walker offers some advice if you’re dealing with a bad boss at work
Before you jump ship and leave, talk about it with your family, colleagues, or close friends (Photo: Adobe Stock)
They have their reasons, but many will assume they have bolted because they think the ship is sinking. And to be fair, it’s been stormy weather for some time, and, well, something had to give.
Should we feel sorry for Boris? Has he come to the end of the road as PM, or has he been dealt incredibly difficult circumstances and made some unfortunate (OK, and big) mistakes along the way? We’re all entitled to our opinions and there is no shortage of problems for us to complain about - and blame Boris for.
But what if this was happening to your boss - how would you react if you felt they were making mistakes, losing business and support from the rest of the team?
Well, if it’s happening to you, or someone you know, check out these tips:
Weigh up the pros and cons
No boss is perfect (even if they pretend to be): we’re all human after all, but some get more things right than others. What you need to decide, is do they get the right stuff right? And are they, on balance, good to work for?
You might not always agree with them, or like what they say or do sometimes, but they could still be doing a good job for you and for the business.
Make list of the pros and cons, seeing things in black and white helps us to focus our heads before we make any rash decisions.
Show your support
We can all point the finger and talk behind the boss’s back, and many people do. But even if we think we can do a better job ourselves, it’s not quite so easy when you’re doing it!
So, before you go all-in with the criticism and complaints, first ask yourself what you’ve done to support them.
Proactively offer your help and do what your boss needs you to do. And if you hear others talking negatively about them have the courage to speak up in their defence. You might be unpopular, but if you were the boss, you’d want your team to do the same for you, wouldn’t you?
Be honest - speak up
OK, I know it’s your boss, but you can and should speak up if you feel something isn’t right, or you don’t agree with their decision. Be respectful about how you do it but do it anyway and listen to the explanation you get - there might be good rationale behind it.
Daft as it sounds, some bosses make decisions under pressure that turn out to be obviously stupid - only no one dare tell them that!
It’s easy to lose perspective and not see the impact you’re having on your team, and it takes someone brave to stand up and speak out. Be that person.
Give your boss time
How long is too long? Only you know the answer to that. But as with most people in senior positions, it can take a while to settle into the job and make a positive difference. They need to earn and build up respect and they have to prove their worth, don’t they? After all, they get paid more than you do.
But a good, effective leader will make a good first impression, they’ll want to get to know the business and people in it, and they should be trying to understand what they can do to make your working life, and the business, better.
Look out for these signs and play your part in being supportive and honest first - listen to their ‘plan for the future’ and then based on how quickly you start to see some action (and results) decide how long you are willing to stick around.
‘Vote’ with your feet, or accept it
So, what if your boss has been unimpressive for quite some time, and is showing no sign - or not enough for you - of things improving?
This is the crossroads you might be faced with, but before you jump ship and leave, talk about it with your family, colleagues, or close friends - as I’m sure Sajid Javid and Rishi Sunak have done. The difference is that they (probably) have far more money than most of us and although the decision is a big one - they can leave their position and still be able to afford a tub of Lurpak without sweating.
And let’s not forget, when we have a bad day at work and the boss has annoyed us, it’s easy to say we’re quitting - only to sleep on it and realise that we were overreacting.
Take your time, think it through and then make your decision: find a job with a less stupid boss (before you quit) and then resign, or accept your boss for their good points and not so good points, and focus on making the most of your job.
After all, if you love your job, why should you be the one to quit?
Let’s hope Boris listens and learns fast. Because no leader is indispensable, are they?
You can listen to Amana on our self-improvement podcast series, The Reset Room.