We often think of workplaces as well organized with perfect workflows. It can be true for most organizations or at least some of their departments. How is it in reality? Well, as long as you do not look at the whole process you cannot spot organizational issues. You may already have a Quality Management (QM) book which explains and describes the procedures your organization has (should have). Is your QM process close to your everyday workflow? Are you satisfied with the way things are done?

In organizations, we may starts with big ideas on how things should be done. We write procedures and imagine assessments to check that everything is alright. We anticipate our needs and create idealized version of reality. Let me explain. In a perfect world, things will be done as written in the QM book, delay will not exist, last minute issue either. Unfortunately, in real life there is always something happening that was not planned: an ill employee, losing an important client, new competitors...

Here is how a perfect world would look like:
  • Perfect timing
You asked for the report to be on your desk at noon today but in fact it was ready yesterday. 
  • Flawless Humans
Your employees are engaged and provide the best service ever which impacts the customers loyalty and foster your brand fame. Your leaders promote equity, employees wellness and help each other to create a strong organizational culture that drives your company to success.
  • Perfect anticipations
You have planed all possible events and communicated the procedures to your employees along with perfect training. 
  • Perfect demand and offer
Your clients ask exactly for the services or products you can offer. In case of atypical demand you  have the means to satisfy your customers demand. R&D is your second nature. 
  • Perfect environment
The environment in which your organization evolves promotes your development. Laws are supporting you, competitors are not to scary, the economy is stable. Your dreams can become true.  
  • Flawless two-ways communication
Obviously, every time you communicate people understand what you mean and interpret every silence as wisdom. On the other side, you have the capacity to understand everything communicated to you. There are no language barriers, no misunderstanding.

This was the description of a perfect world but we all know that this is most of the time not the case.
In reality we have:
  • Usual time issues 
Your department was under so much pressure that you did not have the time to write the yearly report. 
  • Normal Humans
Leaders and employees are subject to emotions that can surface in the workplace at any time. Your employees may not be engaged and your leaders can be bossy bosses who do not foster wellness and slef-development in the organizations.
  • Inability to anticipate everything
We are not able to predict the future. We can only anticipate possible trends and get ready to react to impromptus events. This means that organizations have to be flexible enough to change directions when necessary. It sometimes easier said than done.
  • Variable demand and offer 
The demands varies in function of the environment in which your organization evolves. You may also lose some of your top talents which will impact your offer. 
  • Evolving environment
"The only constant is change" What ever is out there, it changes continuously. Laws are passed, competitors come and go. Economy collapse and grow. Global warming is real. Globalization too. Nothings seems to remain the same expect change.
  • Difficult communication
Communication is probably the most difficult area we have to deal with. It seems like we cannot understand what the other person says because we do not listen. On the other side, the person cannot understand us because they do not use the same frame or language to interpret the world. We have a tendency to have a one way communication which do not foster real exchanges.


There are ways to get closer to the workplace of our dreams. We should be more realistic and accept what is. We have to look at our workplace realities and find solutions that fits its employees, environment, communication and culture. Otherwise, any attempted change will fail. 

Systemic way to improve your workplace:

  • Observe reality and take notes 
It can be tempting to make assumptions on the problems' causes. It is then important to observe the current process in your organization. I encourage you to talk with the people involved in the process you are looking at in order to get their point of view and have a better understanding of the problem. Do not hesitate to create visual workflows by using for example the Swim lane diagram. 
  • Describe your dream
Take the time to dream about your goal. Do it in group with all the employees who are involved in the area you want to improve. Ask them what would make the situation better for them or ask them where do they face difficulties. There is probably a solution to your problem and talking about it may help to surface it. You can then create a Swim lane diagram of the dream process.
  • Identify gaps between Reality and Dream
Now that you have a clear understanding of what is and what could be, you can use the Swim lane diagrams and compare them. Where do the differences lay?
  • Investigate on action that could be taken to achieve the dream state
 Do you need to invest in a new software? Should you reorganize your workflow? What actions should be taken?
  • Create a step by step model of improvement
In this section, you should carefully think of breaking down the big project in small and accountable steps. You should create a check list of steps to be taken.
  • Implement the model
Now, it is becoming real! You will start implementing the change with the help of your employees. Find your Change agents in order to spread the change willingness.
  • Check if it works. Otherwise adapt the model to your needs
You may take time to check if the improvement process is smoothly or if some problems emerge. You should be ready to modify the model you created because your aim is to create improvement not to follow the process from A to Z.
  • Celebrate small success and recognize employees work
Every time a box is checked on your to do list you should celebrate it or at least mention that you are done with it. It will help people to see the evolution and keep engaged with the change.
  • Do your best to achieve your dream. It is normal if you do not fully achieve it.
Sometimes you cannot achieve exactly what you were aiming for. It is totally normal and acceptable as long as you did not worsen the initial situation. If the situation is worst it may be because you neglected the human aspect of the change or that the communication was not clear enough.

There are various Areas of Improvement that you may wish to look at. I would suggest you to improve one area at a time and to start with one that do not need to much amelioration in order to test your process.
  1. Time management
  2. Relationships between employees and leaders
  3. Innovation capability
  4. Environment assessment 
  5. Communication
Do not forget that in the end the result and the people well-being matters more than the process. You should be ready to change your model and to rethink your process in order to ensure the success of your change as well as the happiness of your employee. Now, Enjoy the journey.
I worked in very different organizations from a monolingual one, to an international start-up and then for an international organization. I also had the chance to hear about "fabulous" boss stories along the way. I had the chance to look at different ways of managing and could list few characteristics that created anger and disappointment in employees when they had to deal with their boss.

Here are some bosses' behaviors that made me tick as well as some of my peers:
  • Do what I say, not what I do.
This type of boss rely on their verbal power to make you work while they do not walk the talk. They may ask you to work harder while spending their morning reading magazine.
  • I listen to you, well no...
You come to your boss with a question or a news. They listen to you while gazing at their phones or anything else but you. 
  • I am not micro managing you, I am controlling your job.
The boss cannot let it go. He needs to know what you do, how you do it and even gives you advice on every little steps you take. Some of them are aware of it and explain it as a way to verify your work. 
  • How could you make a mistake like this? oh, I forgot to tell you. Bad for you!
You made a mistake in the final report, a mistake that could have been avoided if your boss had given you more information. In the end, he blames you for it and do not take responsibility for his miss-communication. 
  • Barbara, Let Robert take care of the printer... (doesn't sound sexist to you?)
Your boss always makes comments about gender, skin color, sexual orientation without an ounce of open-mindness. He may discriminate you and this is really unacceptable.
  • Your paycheck / extra hours from last month? I forgot about it.
I was very chocked to learn that some small organization's bosses take all the time they need to pay their employees. This can lead to serious problem when you do not receive your pay two months in a row. How could an employee accept that? He may not have the choice. Remember there is a job crisis going on. Losing your job is far too dangerous. 
  • This is a very boring task. Do it while I have fun with the interesting ones.
Your boss hired you because you had the perfect degree but on the daily basis you always to the " easy, boring" work. You are never challenged and you know he keeps the best work for himself. 
  • Do you have a problem? Let's talk about it...later 
You came to your boss to talk about an issue you are having at work. Unfortunately for you he is always too busy to listen or to give you advice.

How could anyone work well and be happy with a boss like this?  

Now, I also had the chance to work with wonderful leaders and to hear about good ones. They give us the desire to go for the extra mile, to stay longer after work hours, to be creative. In fact they helped us be engaged in our work! Here is what they do:
  • Last time you mentioned X and I decided to help you deal with it.
They always come back to you when you mentioned a issue or asked a question. They were always ready to teach you something new or encourage you to learn new skills.
  • You don't have a problem. We have a problem and we will solve it.
When one employee is faced with a problem the leader takes it personally. He gives his time and energy in order to help you find a solution.
  • If you made a mistake it is because I did not explain well.
The leader takes the blame on him when a mistake is made. He goes on the first line to defend his team. It can sometimes feels like he is indestructible. I would suggest to say thank you when he does that because he still took the hit for you.
  • Feel free to ask me questions.
The leader always has a door opened. He takes time to listen to your ideas and encourage to ask more questions. He helps you grow and ask you questions back. 
  • Your goal are X, Y, Z. Now go for it!
A leader gives you a vision of what he expects and lists your goals. He then gives you "carte blanche" to achieve them. You know why you have to work and in which direction you should go. 

How could anyone refuse to work with a leader like this?

I intentionally used two different words to describe the team managers: boss or leader. The boss is usually centered on himself and do not pay attention to others. He may consider you as replaceable meanwhile the leader works with his team to achieve a common goal. He considers each employee as a key player in the success of the team.

A question that many employees have when working with a boss is: "How can I handle this situation?". Some bosses can change into leaders but it seems difficult for employees to participate to this transformation. Unfortunately, employees faced with toxic bosses may have no other choice than survive with them. We are told to go away from toxic people but with the job market crisis in Europe, or the office politics, it can be just too dangerous to leave your job or talk about it. Here are few ways to deal with a bossy boss:

  • Confront your boss.
Just be bold and tell him what you think. After all, your boss is human and can be under lot of pressure. He may need a reminder that his behavior impacts others. This may be difficult for some of us and I will therefore encourage you to do it if you feel sure.
  • Find an interlocutor in the organization.
You may be surprised to find help and support from people within your organization. You should mention the issues to HR and explaining your point of view. No need to attack your boss.
  • Understand his process.
Your boss has his own ways to get what he wants. You can identify andrealize that there are times when you can avoid tensions.
  • Acknowledge the toxicity of the boss.
Just acknowledge that your boss can be toxic or create a negative environment. It will help you to better deal with it. 
  • Use your sense of  "humor".
A bit of humor always helps to deal with difficult situations. If you can laugh about it, you can overcome it.
  • Look for institutions that could help you defend yourself.
It can also happen that your boss is acting in total illegality. I suggest you to make a search on the behavior you are facing at work. You may be bullied, oppressed, harassed, discriminated and all those things can be legally punished. One of the difficulty though is to prove your point. 
  • Look for another job.
Your best option sometimes is to leave your job. Having worked with a "boss" you will be able to ask subtle questions to understand the working way of your future manager. We all hope the new one will be a leader. 
  • Talk about it with someone external.
You may also consider to talk about your issue with someone exterior to your workplace in order to avoid a snow bowl effect. In the organization, you may speak to someone, who will speak to someone, who will speak to someone and then a rumor may spread wider and be out of control. You never know how deformed your initial complain could come back to you. Just be careful. 
  • Learn meditation or practice sport.
You could learn new ways to relax or practice more sport. The healthier we are the better we can react to negative situations. You may also discover your inner self which is worth the try. 

Did you ever work with a bossy boss? How did you deal with it? What would you advice to someone in the same situation?