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老板恶劣,员工有责

如果你觉得顶头上司恶劣不堪,在做出辞职或更激烈的举动之前,最好先问自己几个问题。

    今年夏天,你很可能看过一部喜剧片,片名是《老板不是人》(Horrible Bosses)。片中从事不同职业的三个人策划谋杀劣迹斑斑的老板。这部电影在今年夏天意外地一炮而红,在上映的首个周末,便登上票房亚军的宝座。电影票房统计网站Box Office Mojo称,该片是全球有史以来最卖座的黑色喜剧电影。

    很显然,这部电影引起了人们的共鸣。谁没遇到过恶劣的老板呢?人们加入公司,最后却因为种种原因炒了老板鱿鱼——这种事情再平常不过了。

    然而,根据我们的经验,这种事情并不都是老板的错。实际上,在很多情况下,老板都是无辜的。我们发现,通常情况下,大部分老板的想法或多或少都是善意的,只是做法欠佳。这种差距是因为他们忽视了自己应该履行的职责,以及员工对老板言辞和行为的反应。实际上,老板与员工之间经常会陷入一种恶性循环:某一行动导致产生误解,对方做出被动反应,在这种状态下,老板和员工的关系会越来越糟,最终水火不容。

    如果你认为老板恶劣不堪,在做出辞职或更激烈的举动之前,要先问自己几个问题。

    自己的表现是否达到了预期?

    老板必须要将员工的缺点解释给他的上司。所以如果员工没有达到预期,又怎么能指望与老板建立和谐的关系呢?如果员工未能达到要求,就需要与老板讨论一下问题的症结所在,如何弥补,以及老板对员工的预期到底是什么。如果还没有采取行动,员工应该承担责任,主动与老板就这些问题展开讨论。

    你在这种上下属关系中掺杂了哪些情感因素?

    老板并不是我们人生中遇到的第一个权威。即便是职场新人,在此之前肯定也遇到过许多这样的角色,比如父母、兄长、学校里的“恶霸”、老师、教练等。这些经验和教训塑造了我们与权威相处时的模式,以及与权威交往时应该抱持怎样的期望,尽管这些经验和教训通常都无法言传。

    你对当前老板的抱怨,是否类似于你对前任老板或其他权威的抱怨?

    如果是的话,这是一个危险信号。我们认识的一个熟人说,以前他总是与老板合不来,直到十年之后他才意识到,原来在他眼中,这些老板都有同一个毛病。不出意料,这种毛病也就是他自身在成长过程中与父亲之间出现矛盾的根源所在。在面对老板时,甚至包括生活的其他方方面面,我们总是只关注自己长期秉持的信念和结论。比如,如果你认为权威不值得信任,那每一位老板都会遭到你的质疑。

    你是否能将老板作为普通人看待?

    在权威的外衣下,老板其实和普通人一样,有自己的生活背景、培训和经历,也怀有希望、恐惧、沮丧、抱负、力量和缺点。你对老板的了解全面吗?你能透过老板的视角来看待这个世界吗?虽然了解是什么原因造就了老板这样一只“怪物”并不能使他/她有所改变,但却能让你在与老板打交道时拥有更多创新性的选择。

    上下级关系不和,你是否承担了一定的责任?

    如果这种恶劣的关系非你所愿,你是否努力尝试过与老板沟通疑问?还是仅仅觉得被动和无助?你是否认为,这种关系纯粹是由老板支配,因为他才是强势的一方?你是否意识到,老板的某些行为实际上是出于对你的一种反应?你是否尝试过从老板的角度来看待自己?

    我们见过许多下属,包括一些经理人,他们认为(或许是由于我们前文所提到的情感因素)对于和掌权者的关系,他们无能为力。但他们忽略了一个事实:尽管这种关系并不平等,但依然是一种双向的关系,双方都需要依赖对方获得成功,而正是这种相互依赖的关系,给了了他们进行协商的机会。

    请不要误解,我们并不是要否认恶老板的存在。但是,到底是老板恶劣不堪,还是你与老板之间的关系出现了问题?没有仔细考虑过前文提出的问题之前,不要过早下定论。如果确实是老板的问题,唯一的选择就是炒他的鱿鱼。但如果是与上司之间的关系出现了问题,作为下属,也需要承担一定的责任,并采取措施改变这种局面。

    本文作何琳达•A•希尔为哈佛商学院(Harvard Business School)教授,肯特•林内贝克具有30年管理经验,并参与出版了《做个真正的经理人:成为伟大领导者必须具备的三个特质》(Being the Boss: The 3 Imperatives for Becoming a Great Leader)一书。

    翻译:刘进龙/汪皓

    There's a decent chance you saw the movie "Horrible Bosses" this summer. A comedy about three men in different jobs who decide to murder their awful bosses, it was one of the season's surprise hits. On its opening weekend, it was the second-highest grossing film. It has become the highest-grossing dark comedy of all time worldwide, according to Box Office Mojo.

    Obviously, the film struck a chord. Who hasn't suffered an awful boss somewhere along the line? We've yet to meet anyone who disagrees with the truism that people join companies but quit bosses.

    But in our experience, not every instance of a "horrible boss" is entirely the fault of the boss. In fact, many instances are not. Most bosses, we've found, usually mean well, more or less, but they don't often do well. The difference is usually driven by ignorance of what they should be doing and how people are responding to their words and actions. In fact, bosses and their staff often tumble into a downward spiral of action-misunderstanding-reaction that feeds on itself and ultimately produces a relationship so toxic it can't be recovered.

    If you believe your boss is horrible, we propose some questions you should answer before you do anything drastic like quitting -- or worse.

    Are you performing up to expectations?

    If not, why would you expect to have a great relationship with someone who must explain your shortcomings to his or her superiors? If you're falling short, you and your boss need to talk about why that's the case, what you can do about it, and what really should be expected of you. If you haven't done that, you should take responsibility and initiate that discussion.

    What emotional baggage are you bringing into the relationship?

    Your current boss isn't the first authority figure you've encountered. Even if you're just entering the workforce, you've already experienced a string of them, starting with your parents and extending through older siblings, schoolyard bullies, teachers, coaches, and a host of others. The sum of those experiences and the lessons you've drawn from them, usually in the form of unspoken assumptions, shape how you deal with and what you expect from every new authority figure, such as your current boss.

    Are your complaints about your boss similar to your complaints about earlier bosses or other authority figures?

    If so, that's a red flag. An acquaintance of ours tells of finding fault with all his early bosses until he realized, after 10 years, that they all suffered the same fault, and that fault, unsurprisingly, was the problem he had with his own father growing up. With bosses, as elsewhere in life, we tend to focus on evidence for beliefs and conclusions we already hold. If you've already concluded that authority figures can't be trusted, you'll probably mistrust every new boss you have.

    Are you able to see your boss as a person?

    Under that cloak of authority, there's a person just like you, the product of her unique background, training, and experience, with hopes, fears, frustrations, aspirations, strengths, and weaknesses. Do you know enough of this personal dimension that you can begin to see the world through her eyes? Knowing why an ogre is an ogre may not change her, but it will free you to think more creatively about your options for dealing with her.

    Above all, do you take at least some responsibility for the relationship?

    If it's not what you want, have you made a serious effort to talk over your issues with your boss? Or do you feel passive and helpless? Do you feel the relationship is entirely controlled by the boss because he's the one with the clout? Is it conceivable to you that some of your boss's behavior might be a reaction to you? Have you tried to see yourself through your boss's eyes?

    We see many subordinates, including managers, who assume (perhaps because of the baggage we noted earlier) that they have no control over or ability to shape their relationship with someone in authority. They overlook the fact that, though it's not a relationship of equals, it is still a two-way relationship in which each person needs the other to succeed, and that gives them some ability to negotiate.

    Don't misunderstand. There are horrible bosses. But until you've thought through the questions we've raised here, you cannot tell what exactly is horrible -- your boss or your relationship with your boss. If it's truly your boss, your only option may be to leave. But if it's the relationship, you need to shoulder some responsibility for it and then take action to change it.

    Linda A. Hill, a professor at Harvard Business School, and Kent Lineback, a writer with 30 years of management experience, are co-authors of Being the Boss: The 3 Imperatives for Becoming a Great Leader.

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