It’s good to be the king…except when it isn’t

You’ve heard them, those fateful words mumbled by frustrated employees under their breath when they’re angry. You, in fact, may have mumbled the words yourself at one time or another.

“I don’t know why the boss looks so stressed. She’s got it made.” Or…

“He has no idea what he’s doing.” Or the ever-popular…

“Well, when I’m in charge, that would NEVER happen.”

Right. Because being the boss is the easiest job in the world. That’s why everyone is so darn good at it. (Yes. That was sarcasm, for those of you scoring at home.)

Listen, I get why so many people get mad at their boss. There are some really bad ones out there. And there are some good people out there just trying to do their best in a crappy situation. Sometimes it really does suck to be in charge. Here are some reasons why The Man deserves a little slack now and then:

  • It’s lonely at the top: Yeah, when you’re promoted you get an office (usually) and a parking space (occasionally). But think about what you lose – you are no longer “one of the gang”. You have to be very careful about what you say and to whom you say it, particularly the higher up you go in the company. This can be a pretty jarring shift. And you feel like you’re cut off just when you need someone to talk to the most.
  • Bosses have to fire people: Only the most evil, psychopathic bosses are unaffected by firing people. Even when it’s absolutely the right thing to do and it’s best for the company (and even the employee), firing people is awful. Yes, you can get through it professionally and with empathy, but it still impacts you before and after the fact.f_bomb
  • There’s a LOT more accountability: Back in the day, when you were a hot shot individual contributor, you could get away with only being responsible for your own stuff and getting out of the way when others failed. Well, guess what – as the boss you don’t get to do that any more. Now, you’re responsible for the results of the TEAM…and YOUR boss is going to hold you accountable for their actions. This can lead to a lot of sleepless nights and uncomfortable staff meetings if you’re not on the ball and managing your people appropriately.
  • Other People’s Problems (drama): Remember how sometimes you would just walk into your boss’s office and “vent” – dumping your problems on his/her shoulders? Yeah…now people try to dump their problems on you. And even if you have amazing deflecting skills, you’ll still have to listen to their issues because there may be an obstacle buried in that rant you need to help remove so your employee can be successful. And you know how sometimes two team members get into a turf war over something as stupid as who gets the good whiteboard markers? Before you were the boss, you were allowed to walk away…even laugh at it. Now, you’ve got to deal with it because it’s impacting the overall performance of your team and you are responsible for your team’s results. Fun, huh? (You can still laugh at it, though. Just do it out of earshot.)
  • People expect you know know EVERYTHING that’s going on..and share it: The truth is, many bosses are just as much in the dark about the whys and whats as most employees. Butin a lot of cases, they DO know what’s going on but can’t share the information because it’s confidential. Employees don’t care. They want info and they want it now! As a boss, you have to be able to balance the challenges of transparency and confidentiality. And that can be very tiring, especially if you’ve forgotten to check with your boss about what the message should be.

Don’t let this list scare you – there are are lot of cool thing about being a boss. You get to see people reach their full potential; you have more opportunities to impact what is going on in the workplace; you are personally challenged; etc. And yes, you often get a kick ass office. But for every high, there is a low. For every perk, there is a challenge. Just try and remember that your boss is a human being and even he/she has crappy days. Most bosses are just doing the best they can.

What are some challenges you’ve faced as a boss that you wish your employees understood better? Share in the comments!

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