What would you do if your new boss turned out to be an underwhelming hire? Do you simply tough it out or do you start looking for other opportunities? Well, if you are like many other highly driven, accomplished and talented performers you may do well to choose the door.
I’ve seen it time and again. Highly motivated rock star employees transformed into bundles of self doubt and frustration by new bosses who have half the talent. Have you ever felt the sting of having to report to someone who not only has less ability but deems others with more talent a threat? Not fun is it? Sadly, it’s more common than you think.
The big problem is with recruitment, particularly when a board committee that is quite removed from operations makes the hiring decision. I never cease to be amazed at some of these hiring decisions. Many boards, for example, tend to ignore warning signs because they simply don’t want to see them. This is due in part because people invest part of themselves in the leaders they decide on and they want to believe their choice was as close to perfect as possible. No matter what the sector, I’ve seen this type of ‘mystical thinking’ underscore many a disappointing hire.
So what are the risks of remaining in this type of situation? In my work with many talented men and women there are a number of the common themes:
- New boss could develop jealousy or resentment towards you and your skill set. Again, this is not uncommon as many new leaders can be very concerned about appearances and ‘measuring up‘ and may perceive you as a threat. Unless they have truly good leadership instinct, they won’t relish having folks with superior skills around them.
- Related to the above, I’ve observed the unfortunate dynamic of the new boss competing with those he or she deems more competent. This is surely a road to hell which can lead to you being demoted, demoralized, threatened or ‘outplaced’ due to ‘restructuring’.
- A sad but frequent theme I see is talented men & women’s self esteem taking a hit. Here’s one scenario. You start off wondering how anyone so incompetent could have been hired. Over time, and particularly if the lemonade boss treats you unprofessionally, this can lead to you questioning your ability. Eventually you begin to believe that your skills and accomplishments are worth much less than they really are. You begin to accept as whole and true this misperception of your talent.
- Other risks include a loss of motivation and increasing disengagement. Poor managers are the single most common reason why people leave their jobs.
- You may become increasingly frustrated and/or discouraged especially if your prior boss was also a mentor. The lack of respect and learning potential you feel the new boss provides can be the nail in the coffin for you.
Of course, if you are the supervisor of a struggling new leader, you need to address the situation immediately! Begin by identifying the areas where the new hire is in need of training or support and provide this. Continuing to allow the leader to lead without these supports is a sure-fire recipe for burnout, frustration and attrition amongst the other staff.
If you work in a situation where your new boss’s superiors are either not open to feedback, or it’s too risky to provide this, get out. It likely won’t get better. And hey, there might be no time like the present to chart a new adventure! Or, you can choose to stay in a compromised situation and potentially suffer all that that might bring.
What would you do?
Wow. Have you hit the nail on the head with this one! I’ve had the misfortune of working for a new boss who was quite threatened by the talent of his team. It was not a good situation. I wished I would have left long before I did.
Doug you are so right when you say that this can often be a losing situation. Like Jason I tried toughing it out only to become frustrated and to watch my whole team lose steam, morale and hope was disheartening. It did not need to be this way. Not by a long shot. Most of us left. Those that remain are likely very very unhappy.
My experience has been similar. Many board members just don’t seem to be interested in learning about or being held accountable for their hiring mistakes. It is disheartening especially when good teams get pounded by these decisions. Another related issue is when boards refuse to take action with longstanding leadership challenges. In my work as a consultant I’ve seen many boards refuse to deal with problem executive directors, for example. In spite of the ED being an abusive bully, I’ve seen boards simply turn a blind eye, choosing to pretend the problem doesn’t exist. This, in spite of high rates of attrition and medical leaves…hmmmm…