The saying that “people don’t quit their jobs, they quit their boss” holds a lot of truth. If you’ve had a such an experience, you’re not alone. Actually, I’m right there with you. However, there’s a deeper truth.
Back in my twenties, had I known then what I know now about how to manage difficult workplace relationships, I wouldn’t have made what you would call a significant CLM – career limiting move.
At the time, I was working in residential real estate in Toronto. Though I was a licensed agent, I was working as an assistant to a superstar. She was extremely successful. She’d been in the business for eons and was #1 in sales for the company, perhaps #1 in the whole city. I thought this was a great way for me to learn the ropes while receiving a more stable income base. It turned out to be a disaster in the making.
It didn’t take long until it became pretty obvious that we weren’t getting along. I thought she was cold, condescending and intent in keeping me in a box — I was feeling very micromanaged and my stress level was only climbing week-to-week. When I finally just couldn’t take it anymore, I quit. And I didn’t do it quietly. I was intent on shaming her publicly, letting the whole office know exactly what I thought of her and I why I was leaving. I left feeling victorious and vindicated.
A few years later, I had the idea of having a real estate company hire me to establish and run an in-house marketing department. One of the first companies I thought of pitching this to was the one I just told you about. After all, they were a top company, I knew their VP thought well of me and, as far as I was concerned, I knew that everything I had said about my former boss was true. So I set up a meeting with the VP.
Well, he loved my idea and thought that I was just the right person who could make it happen. I was feeling really good about myself in this moment. Then came the “but”.
He said that he couldn’t hire me because he couldn’t run the risk of offending my former boss, that, regardless what anyone thought of her, he couldn’t afford to lose his #1 agent. So, there it was — a bridge well burnt. A lesson well learned.
But all I learned at that time was the consequences of burning a bridge.
So here’s the deeper truth in the “people quit their boss” scenario …
… when someone’s communication style is in conflict with their boss’s communication style and neither party has sufficient emotional self-awareness, nor adequate enough communication skills, to bridge the differences, the resulting dysfunctional relationship can be so stressful that the person sees no other option but to quit the job.
It was easy for me to say the toxic relationship I had with my boss was her fault. I’ve no doubt that my boss thought that I was entirely to blame. In my departure, probably the both of us thought we won when, in fact, we both lost.
I know how horrible it is to feel caught in a toxic relationship with a boss. I now understand what it’s like for a boss to feel stuck in such a relationship with an employee.
What I focus on in Connected Conversations is teaching you how you can bring debilitating workplace relationships back from the brink of disaster and transform them into positive and productive ones; and have new relationships be on track from day one.
I’ll end this post with two thoughts for my former boss: “I’m sorry” and “thank you.”
Have an enjoyable and productive day.
Have you ever “quit your boss”? What’s your story?