It's a uniquely American idea -- right up there with road trips, tailgates and girls' day out at the spa -- the idea that not only are we not stuck in our jobs for a lifetime, but also that we're letting ourselves down when we stick with a bad deal for too long. From "Take This Job and Shove It" to Office Space to Jerry Maguire, we celebrate our freedom to tell off the boss and take on bigger, better adventures.
So how do you know when it's time to "fire the boss" and find a better home?
When he blames you for his failures
You worked all weekend on the Peterson pitch, hoping your team lands the big new account. You put everything you had into it.
And yet, when the pitch failed, where was your boss? Shouldering the blame and healing wounds?
Nope, he was throwing you under the bus -- for your slides or hand-out materials or earrings or handshake or some other nonsense -- just like he always does.
What's worse, if he had only been paying attention to body language and been a little nicer to Slow Joe, Mr. Peterson's dim-witted nephew, instead of trying to prove him wrong in front of everybody else, perhaps you'd all be celebrating instead of commiserating.
When the boss blames you, time to fire the boss.
When he's focused on his own success -- to your detriment
When the boss' success -- his job, his awards, his glory -- come first, second and third, you need to realize that he's decided where his interests lie...
He's looking out for El Número Uno. And no, that doesn't translate to "my hard-working team."
When the boss is placing all his bets on himself, and all the burden on you, it's time to fire the boss.
When he's got no new ideas
You've tried to get him to see the light, but he's stuck doing the same old things. And they're still not working.
If he's in a rut, a rut, a rut, a rut, a rut -- you get the idea -- that means that your career trajectory is stuck right behind his. It's time to get unstuck and get moving again. Fire the boss.
When things aren't getting better
The easiest way to know when it's time to fire your boss is when things haven't improved, despite his promises. The big accounts aren't coming through, the new products fizzle, the big hires that he trumpets end up being jokers, not aces in the hole.
Sometimes it's just better to find a home where good stuff happens, instead of sticking around a place where there's always an explanation for failure.
When the trendline isn't going up, it's time to fire the boss.
When he's lost the confidence of others
Maybe you're a sweetheart, a softie, a true believer in a human being's ability to turn things around. But after a few years of missed budgets, too many quarters of failed promises, too many weekly staff meetings that depressed rather than inspired you, it might be time to look around and realize that your boss has lost the confidence of others beside you.
If his peers are turning on him, his team members have lost the faith, and customers feel they just can't rely on him anymore, it's time for you to quit being a suffering martyr to the cause. It's time for you to fire the boss.
Why fire the boss? Because life is much more than a paycheck.
You see, you can always buy more things. More car. More house. More toys. More clothes. And if you live in Hollywood, more curves in alluring places.
But the one thing in life you can't buy more of is time. Your time.
A company can always find somebody else to fill the job slot, warm the seat, take the pay, and punch the clock.
You're trading the most precious thing you'll ever have, these next few years of your life. You're hoping the trade is a smart one. That in exchange for these fast-moving, fleeting years, you'll get experience, insight, and wisdom in addition to your paycheck.
So when the boss doesn't measure up; doesn't honor your sacrifice, and treasure, and time; doesn't live up to the standard that somebody getting your most precious gift ought to live up to...
There's only one course an American can take.
Fire the boss. Free yourself. And find a better home for your talents.