Know the Underlying Motivations of Your Boss Before Jumping to Conclusions

MotivationsIs everyone out to get you? Really?

I ask, because it seems that we sure act this way a lot. Our boss announces something, and instantly we’re trying to figure out why that puts us at a disadvantage. Why would there possibly be anything good in what he said?

Here’s a different way to think about it.

In the work environment, most people are trying to juggle between what they’re measured on, and their own self-interest. If they have lots of influence and confidence, they might feel safe enough to shift the balance toward self-interest. If they’re insecure, they’ll probably shift more toward doing what they think they’ll be measured on.

There are other factors, of course, but in my experience, this explains the vast majority of peoples’ actions in the workplace.

In a well-run organization, the overall business goals drive a set of measures which will cause managers to act in the best interests of the company. It’s an imperfect world, of course, but generally that’s what executives are trying to do. They’re seeking to have the business succeed by aligning managers’ actions with what the company needs to achieve.

Here’s what this means: When your boss makes a decision, she’s doing that because she’s trying to do what’s best for the organization, balanced with her own self interest. It may be a tough decision, even with unforeseen consequences, but that’s what she’s trying to do. She’s rarely out to get you personally, unless she somehow perceives that that would help the organization.

So don’t assume your boss is out to get you. Figure out why he’s making those decisions, and why it’s actually the best thing to do in HIS environment. I’ve found that if you understood the world your boss lives in, often you’d make the same decision he does.

Most people, including managers, aren’t trying to do dumb things. They do things that look dumb because you don’t understand their world.

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