The Boss says: “I’ve got your back!” Does he really?

By | October 7, 2014

Kool Derby

At a departmental meeting, the boss (Dan) made it clear that he was fighting for their cause with upper management. The problem, though, is that bad news is followed only by more bad news. A year ago, several staff members were let go, and no one has seen a raise for several years.

Believe in Me

This particular department has seen stagnant performance for several years, and most employees have stuck around, mostly because the job market is tight, and they are comfortable in their current position. There is no need to take a chance right now. Too risky!

Here is part of the discussion:

Dan: Look … I’m doing all I can to talk about the good things y’all are doing.

Employee #1: Dan, we need to have our voices heard. When is the last time management considered what we thought? We provide recommendations and ideas, but nothing is done. It’s discouraging!

Dan: I know what you are saying. I go to those meetings and tell them that we are overworked in this department and that we need to approve more hires. I think we will get at least one more by the end of this year. At least one … I hope!

Employee #2: Dan, what about raises? I hear that the leadership team approved bonuses for themselves. This might be a rumor, but I think it’s true. When are we going to get even a cost-of-living-adjustment?

Dan: That is another issue I raised with the CEO. I told her that even nominal pay increases should be approved. She looked at me funny and told me that she would think about it. You have to believe that I’m doing all I can to make things better.

The Fallout

The problem here is that Dan is giving the same message each year. While he claims to be making a difference, status quo is the result. The employees are restless, and many of them are doing just the bare minimum.

When the leadership team fails to listen to its employees, you can expect resentment, anger, and apathy. In essence, employees will do what is required, but nothing more. When an important project arises, no one will volunteer. There is no reason to give more than expected.

Every organization wants to attract the best employees available in the market. However, potential candidates, especially top-notch prospects, have an innate ability to sense a dysfunctional culture. When interviewing, they can sense if the workers feel the organization appreciates them. If they fail to get the right vibes, they will keep looking, which means that the organization must settle for average employees, which will only cause more problems because they are easily influenced by the other disgruntled staff members.

One can make the argument that Dan is indeed trying to make the case for his employees. However, when will they stop believing what he is saying? After five years, nothing has changed. The employees in his department are underperforming and have no incentive to make any improvements.

Until the leadership team pays attention and assumes accountability, the status quo will remain the norm.

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