Fix your bossAs an employee, you’re often expected to fix stuff.

Fix a product, or a customer service problem, or a software system, or a marketing challenge, or….well, the list is endless.

But there’s one thing you’re not going to fix. Your boss (or the rest of the leadership of the company).

That’s. Not. Your. Job.

How many people become dissatisfied with their work environment because of their boss? Well, it’s the number one reason people leave a company. And I’ll bet a bunch of them tried, in some way, to “fix” their superior – quickly finding out that, lo and behold, such person was not of a mind to be fixed by someone else.

Especially a subordinate.

We have to be realistic with our expectations in any kind of hierarchical environment. The person or people in charge set the tone. They create the culture. When someone else holds the reins, and writes the paychecks, they call the shots. Even the bad shots. And they have hired you to fix problems for them, not to fix them.

If they’re self-aware enough to see a need to be fixed, well, that’s what business/personal coaches are for. Not employees.

Depending on the openness and transparency of the place, you may be able to bring up certain topics, and maybe even address some areas of weakness (if so invited). But once people are adults, they really don’t fundamentally change much. Embrace it.

Here are some of things I’ve wanted to “fix” in those above me during past lives:

  1. Too slow-moving and conservative (or the opposite)
  2. Too controlling (or the opposite)
  3. Too tight-fisted (or the opposite)
  4. Too uncommunicative (not often the opposite!)
  5. Too passionless (or the opposite)

I hate to think of all the stuff they wanted to fix in me – that could be an exceedingly long list!

The fact is, we all come to our work with a huge pile of both experience and baggage that took many years to accumulate. It’s difficult enough to manage our own personalities, let alone take on the burden of “fixing” someone else!

I found this truth to be both frustrating and, at the same time, curiously liberating. It gave me permission to “give up” on trying to change someone else, and begin to set my own course. If you have a certain degree of idealism and entrepreneurial drive, you’re going to find this to be a constant tension. In time, you may feel compelled to go out on your own.

Do the best work you can while you are employed by others, and keep your expectations in check about changing the boss or the company. If you ultimately decide you’ll never flourish while working for someone else (this was my conclusion), then lay the groundwork for launching your own business.

Then you can finally work for you, your dream boss, the one who sees things just the way you see them. At which point, you may well want to find yourself a coach to help fix him or her!