Are you a Manager or a Boss?

I recently had my annual performance review because #corporatecapitalism.

I anticipated that there would be some scolding this conversation because a. I’m human and b. my superior had been incredibly stressed about an event the week prior and was upset with a decision of mine that affected my work or the event zero percent. However, I did not expect the review to be as negative as it was though. There was not one positive accolade during the entire meeting. Not once was anything positive I’ve done over the past year mentioned. We only focused on the areas that were a problem and/or needed improvement. No “thank you.” No “this was good.” Nothing. Only, “you messed up here, here, and here.”

Beyond just the list – one full notebook page, handwritten – it was things that could have EASILY been fixed in the moment. Did I know that 8 months ago I made this mistake that my superior corrected? No. They ADMITED to never mentioning it. Did I know that they gave some of my tasks to another coworker because they (my superior) thought they (the coworker) might do it better? No – I had been assigned tasks of three other coworkers in the meantime (accounting, marketing, and data entry tasks for this writer).

As I think back on the shuffling of tasks and assignments – which happens often – the first thing that comes to mind is the game Risk. I loved playing Risk. Probably understandable as I have two degrees in history – one focused on European Military History from Napoleon through WWII. I like strategy and tactics. In the game of Risk, you are the head of your army, competing against your co-players/enemies for world domination. You roll the dice to see how your attacks and battles turn out and you slowly grow your territory to take out everyone around you. As with all conflict, you have to have your goals and objectives, but you also have to watch your flank, your rear, keep your enemy and their goals in sight, and even watch out for your allies (both to support and make sure they don’t turn on you).

When it comes to my superior, I imagine them standing at one of those huge tables with a game of Risk spread out around them and them thinking they are rearranging their troops and about to declare victory. Where in reality NO ONE knows what is going on and what the point of the gathering/battle is.

Now, my question for you is:

SK Post it - Manager or Boss

You’re probably asking: Sandy, aren’t those the exact same thing? No, they really not, in my opinion.

A manager is someone who organizes their people. The manager is able to delegate – to assign roles to their employees and then let the employee do the things that are assigned to them.

A boss, on the other hand, is someone who just wants to tell other people what to do. These are also often micro-managers.

I’ve worked in the non-profit sector for nearly 15 years and I have ended up with the same boss every time. My definitions do not preclude whether someone is good at being the head of a department, business, or organization – because in each of my experiences, the business does pretty well. The budget is met and goals are achieved. But so often these leaders slip into that bossing role, rather than manage the employees they have. They continuously slip into taking over projects that they’ve delegated to someone within the organization. This often hamstrings the entire department or organization. Goals might be met, but they weren’t surpassed or growth wasn’t what it could have been.

A key part to leading others – in business, on the battlefield, in life – is to have the ability to let go. TRUST your team to do the things you hired your team to do. If you cannot find it in yourself, as the leader, to trust them, then you might have chosen/hired the wrong people. The next step would be to teach and guide them to be an amazing team.

When the employees are valued and trusted and can do their job, the entire team, department, organization, corporation, etc. wins.

I hope you have a wonderful day!


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