Is your manager a cat whisperer or a dirty dog?
Does my son’s dog Oscar remind you of a C-Suite grouch?
Management is very much like cat whispering. Those best at herding cats are folks who (1) like and respect cats, (2) understand what motivates and/or distresses cats, (3) know where the cats need to go once they are rounded up, and (4) can authentically communicate points (1), (2), and (3) to each and every cat. So, just between us, let’s evaluate the managers in our lives and also our own attitudes toward our workplaces.
Cat whisperers answer “yes” to the little quiz below; dirty dogs would earn “no” replies.
What’s true or false about your manager?
Bases decisions on facts rather than opinions.
Avoids the “Ivory Tower Syndrome”; welcomes interaction with subordinates.
Doesn’t play the blame game when things go wrong, or take all the credit when things go right. Calls attention to others’ accomplishments and contributions.
Feels bound by the same time constraints as staff; punctual with meetings, etc.
Doesn’t skew attention toward bottom-performing 80% of staff at expense of top-performing 20%. Shows concern and interest in talented, promotable people.
Privately redirects or dismisses staff; does not use a public forum to humiliate or “correct” poor performance.
Is comfortable depending on staff for real solutions or significant input.
When talking to the CEO or owner of the company, discusses plans for today’s challenges, rather that spouting constant reminders about how much the company depends on him or her to run things. Gives the CEO relevant updates, even if the news isn’t as good as expected.
Clearly expresses desired process or outcomes regarding a complicated task or project, reducing the likelihood of failure.
Seeks out ongoing personal improvement opportunities whether the company pays for them or not, setting the example of being a lifelong learner.
Takes professional risks.
Challenges or answers company criticism without participating in it.
Let’s say your manager is more a dog (gasp!) than a cat whisperer. Here’s empowerment to improve your own job satisfaction:
Feeling underemployed? Redefine your job as a steppingstone and tease out all possible training, recommendations, and networking opportunities while you’re there. (It also helps open your eyes to opportunities where you are.)
Do you choose to be contented or disgruntled? A conscious change in perception is the quickest way to change your own attitude. Fact: If you ACT like you like your job, you actually can LEARN to like your job. Pretend it’s your dream job. Fake it ‘til you make it, in other words.
Answer the hard questions. How does your job experience relate to your own habits? Do you typically stay in a house, a relationship, or another personal situation for too long? Or have you realized benefit from hanging in there and trying even harder? Knowing yourself, and what you might expect from increased effort (or staying too long after the lights are off), can help steer you toward either a mental resolution or a true separation.
If you truly feel that you are wasting your talents in a job, fold. Every hour lost to resentment is an hour you cannot get back. Career contentment is found in the feeling your work is meaningful ... BUT job satisfaction isn't an either/or proposition. You may have a well-paying good job with great benefits and working conditions, but if your boss is a jerk, you'll often want to chuck that job. Is there middle ground? If you're pay covers handling some B.S. now and then, you may find it isn't worth the separation anxiety of leaving.
Here’s a little confession: this blog posting isn’t really so much about the managers in your life as it is about the chance to reach out and touch you – to encourage you in moving forward in your career with both a sense of purpose and a happy heart, or at least the satisfaction of knowing it's your own choice to stay where you are when things aren't so fa-la-la great.