Q: I’ve worked 10 years for my immediate supervisor, who has continually praised my work and recently acknowledged how much he valued my contributions—only to find out from a colleague that I’ll soon be out of a job. Obviously, my boss isn’t who I think he is. Where did I go wrong? Any advice moving forward?
A: Not knowing the circumstances of your employment or your work performance, I’ll have to take you at face value about the feedback you have been receiving from your supervisor.
Before you jump to any conclusions, there may be something else going on behind the scenes that your supervisor is unable to share about the company.
Is it possible your company may be experiencing financial difficulties or is changing its strategic direction? If so, there may be discussions going on that your colleague overheard. Could you be a victim of the office rumor mill?
Regardless, you need to speak with your boss for clarification. If he is unwilling to be transparent and offers no explanation perhaps your colleague is right and your assessment of your supervisor may be spot on.
Whether or not your current boss is trustworthy is yet to be seen; however, here are a few warning signs to measure someone’s trustworthiness:
- If a boss complains to you about your fellow employees, they probably aren’t trustworthy. Anyone who gossips to you will easily gossip about you.
- A boss who is afraid of higher-up managers is a sign that he or she may need a future sacrificial lamb to avoid looking bad with their immediate supervisor.
- If a boss is quick to find someone to blame whenever something goes wrong; it is usually because they can’t handle the pressure of being accountable. Don’t fall for how friendly a supervisor is when they’re not under stress because the minute something goes wrong, they will find a scapegoat and aren’t worthy of your trust.
- A supervisor who is obsessed with targets and metrics is not someone who typically has the back of their team or the backbone to lead through trust. They only care about those who hit their goals every day.
These are only a few warning signs. However, if you indeed are correct about your situation, it is time to launch a new job search. My advice: Find a company with a culture that values employees over self-interest. That said, being accountable and doing your job are paramount for any job. My point is you want to work for a company that leads by fostering professional and personal growth of its team members and provides them with the necessary resources as well as a supportive and collaborative environment. This kind of company culture has leaders that exhibit qualities such as empathy, listening, stewardship and empowerment.
Do your homework, start networking to land in a better work situation.
Joan Lee Berkman is a marketing and public relations consultant. if you have a question for Joan, send it to email@example.com.