Manager or Boss

Am I alone in thinking this? To me it seems that when I joined the workforce in the 1980’s, there was a sense of mentor-ship that led to real careers. You could feel safe knowing that if you wanted to, the place you worked in would reward you with training from older skilled professionals. Plus you had the freedom to choose where in the company you wanted to go in years to come. All you needed to do was prove that you had enthusiasm and passion.

And then one day my company did something really strange. In the late 80’s they created a special program to train people to be ‘managers’. To make matters worse, they discouraged staff from within the organisation to sign up, choosing candidates from outside the workplace. These people eventually all left over the next few years, taking their training with them.

As time moved on, our real managers were being replaced by bosses with Management Training, and not by those working up the ranks with years of knowledge behind them. It seemed anyone could walk into a company and be a boss, even if they lacked the internal skills to actually manage.

To clarify, these bosses had no background in the area they were supposedly taking charge of. We’d see their decisions based on theory, regardless of whether or not their training suited their industry. They’d either make the wrong calls or try to hide their ignorance, or both. If they were lucky, they’d leave their company before the skeletons were discovered, but command a large payout before going to screw up another organisation.

Ask yourself this – is your manager working for the company, or for him or herself? Are you finding yourself faced with too much work (or underemployed) because ‘the boss’ has no background in understanding what expertise is needed in the industry you work in?

If you said ‘yes’, then you’re probably left with a pay-cheque mentality. As you’re never going to be considered for a career, why bother going beyond the call of duty? You probably regularly skim the employment classifieds already.

Which leads me to now, several decades later. I feel too often we have workplaces where even those old Baby Boomers who had the skills have left the workforce. They never played mentor to Generation X, who in turn are too old to care any more about a career. And Generation Y is left to make sense of it all with clueless bosses calling the shots with no real knowledge of the industry they’re taking command of.

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