It’s easy to think about heartbreak being caused by disappointment in romantic relationships, or the loss of a beloved relative, or the inability to recover from a serious illness. But what about heartbreak caused by unthinking managerial practices? Sadly, these are far more common than you might think and therefore it’s keenly important to be aware of potential workplace heartbreak that can be and often is caused by unthinking managers.
Suddenly Switched to a New Project or Team
When someone is deeply invested in a project or working with a specific team and consequently they truly love their work—sometimes even working overtime with joy, even sacrificing time with family and friends—and then suddenly they are transferred to a new project and/or team—this can be heartbreaking. We’ve coached several people who’ve left their previous workplace because they could no longer tolerate walking into, much less continuing to contribute to the place that caused their emotional pain.
Micro-managed Into Mindless Obedience
Too often we hear from professionals of various kinds that they feel under the thumb of their manager—MBAs, attorneys, data scientists, engineers, sales people, and marketing specialists to name a few. Coming to work with creative intent, intelligent perspective, and loyalty to the company only to have your work redone by your boss nearly every time, and/or rarely given the caliber of challenge that you signed up for can be heartbreaking. And in due time, when this happens people will either quit and move on, or they will become numb functionaries grinding out prescribed robotic work that’s far beneath their talent but meets the standards of their reliable and safe paycheck-source.
Related: So What’s Your 2015 BHAG? (LinkedIn)
Routinely Criticized Even for Small Stuff
Related to the Micro-manager soul killer is the boss who cannot be pleased. Nothing is ever good enough. It always has to be done over, reduced, expanded, revamped. This is especially painful when an educated, experienced employee receives this kind of non-stop heartless demand for compliance with an ongoing attempt to create “perfection.” Whether individually, within a team, and/or in the business at large, this soul-draining exercise in futility will push people into exit-interviews faster than a budget cut or relocation of the business.
Dressed Down in Public
While it’s crucial that your employees receive ongoing feedback on how they are doing, both positive and corrective, when a manager chooses a team meeting or offsite to expose dissatisfaction with a particular person no matter what the intent or rational, the individual on the receiving end can feel embarrassed, humiliated, devastated—even heart broken. All the trust they gave to their manager is down the drain, loyalty to the company has been shredded, and the ability to return to work may have been plundered forever.
Priorities Keep Changing
One of the complaints we hear from people at a variety of companies is that managers keep changing their priorities so that what was wanted yesterday is no longer of concern and now something new has taken its place—over and over and over and over. So there is no way to feel accomplished, to feel complete with a project. Instead, the feeling of futility and slow burning anger creeps in eroding trust in the manager and the company. “This place is crazy” becomes the easy way to describe the problem. But the resolution usually occurs when the individual quits—many times taking several co-workers out the door as well.
Less Qualified Person Is Promoted
Saved for last, the experience of being passed over for a promotion that is given to a less experienced, less talented, less successful individual is often beyond recovery. The individual gave their heart and soul and their excellence to the company and did not get rewarded. Worse yet, someone who may be better at playing politics won the day.
There are numerous other events and managerial behaviors that can cause devastating heartbreak. What can you add to the list?