Boss Blind Spot

There seems to be something in the air. Several of my friends are on the job hunt, and they’re at various places on the spectrum of “seeing what’s out there” to “get me the hell out of here before I gouge my own eyes out.” And while their circumstances are all varied in terms of how long they’ve been there, what their next move might be or whether or not they’ve got families to support, they all have one thing in common. They’ve gotten new bosses within the past year and their work lives have become intolerable.

We’ve long known that people don’t leave jobs, but rather, leave bosses. But knowing that and seeing it in practice across organizations and professions is another matter. And while I don’t know the specific details with every situation, I know several of these bosses have lost people before. I also fully understand that I wouldn’t necessarily know if something was being done – corrective action shouldn’t be public, of course – but it’s hard when high turnover is the only piece of the puzzle people see. Employees know which bosses have high turnover. They see who leaves, how long they lasted and they end up usually watching the whole thing happen again before they know it. One of my friends who just left her job was the third person to leave her team in less than a year. And the team is only 5 people to begin with – including the boss that everyone keeps leaving, who has only been there two years himself.

Sure, there are always reasons people leave other than their boss. And people may often share reasons other than their boss because they’re afraid or don’t want to make trouble. But as leaders within our organizations, it’s critical to look at the common denominators. Other employees certainly will be, and if they’re even perceiving the boss as that main common denominator, it may be time to check your own blind spots.

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