When Your Boss’s Career Is in Trouble, So Is Yours

Tainted Leadership

Image by Clker-Free-Vector-Images from Pixabay

“You can be the most productive and most effective, but politics show up as ego, jealousy and sabotage from bosses who can’t perform.”
 ― Richie Norton

I was having a good year until I wasn’t.

I had established trust with my boss. My team was meeting or beating the group metrics. Our customers were pleased with our work. My small department had an average customer response grade of A-. My last year’s performance review was good. I was on track for a promotion in the next twelve months. My career was going well.

Because his team was doing well, my boss got promoted. Boom. Reset, a whole new game.

We inherited a boss who had been demoted, not by one position, but by two. You never want to work for a demoted boss. Your new boss will move to protect himself from everyone, including own his team.

Our new leader had been in charge of the entire Engineering and maintenance departments. He oversaw hundreds of people with a huge budget. When he was demoted, he was assigned to manage test engineering — a small part of the Engineering department. He now had four people as direct reports and our small teams. His new group was less than twenty people.

It was performance appraisal time, and the demoted boss had a plan to protect himself. His tactic was to give every person a bad performance review. If everybody working for him was incompetent, they could not replace him from within his department.

His plan was terrible for his employees, but a great tactic for him. By the time my turn came, everyone knew what he was doing.

I sat across from him in his office while he tried to tell me why I my performance was unsatisfactory. He had to use soft parameters. All the numbers for my team were meeting or beating expectations.

Per my leader, I was getting a bad review because I did not “click” with our internal customers. Say what? Click, you say. What is the click metric? He had no complaints or internal reports from any of my customers. Non-clicking was his assessment of my performance.

I disagreed with everything he wrote. I would not take an undeserved bad review without a fight, even though I knew he would never back down.

During our conversation, he stood up, walked over, and stood over me while we talked about my review. This part of the review must be a “Stand Up Meeting.” He would not intimidate me, so I stood up too. In my heels, we were about the same height. We continued the discussion with both of us standing well within each other’s personal space.

After a few minutes, he walked back to his chair and sat down. I also sat back down.

I couldn’t convince him to change my review.

When the time came to sign the performance review, I didn’t want to sign. The boss insisted that I did. At the bottom of the page, I wrote, “I disagree with this performance review. It is not a true reflection of my performance or my skills.” He turned the review in with those words on it. Of course, the rebuttal didn’t matter, but I felt better.

“If you don’t ask, the answer is always no.” — Nora Roberts

The next week, I went to HR and did what I should have done the moment they assigned that man as my boss. I requested an immediate transfer. When Human Resources wanted to know why… I told them to read my review; me and my new boss had failed to “click.” I could not find any courses in the company training catalog to improve my click-ability factor, therefore, I needed to move.

I transferred within the month. Of the three colleagues that stayed behind with the demoted boss, he fired two within a year. When I left the company a few years later, he remained in his demoted position.

If your boss is not performing well, get out. Transfer if you can, quit if you need to, but get away from a struggling boss fast. They will scramble to save their careers. There is no mentoring or even guidance available for you. Run, run away.



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