The Flavor of the Month Boss


There have been several requests on how to deal with bosses who seem to have a new burning initiative every month. Every time it’s the be-all and end- all, critically important, and they expect you to instantly champion it. First it’s time management, then its fiscal responsibility, then customer service, then process improvement, and so on. Each, on their own, may be an admirable goal, but it’s hard to keep switching gears when it comes to what should be your absolute burning priorities. It’s particularly frustrating when the boss moves on to new initiatives before the previous ones have had a chance to really take root.

It’s tempting to think of this boss as being unfocused and impulsive, but that’s probably an unfair characterization. More likely, this is a boss who is motivated to improve the organization (that’s the good thing), but doesn’t realize how much time and effort it takes to make most of these things really become part of a workplace environment (that’s the bad thing). It’s also possible that he (she) is being pressured from his boss to do these types of things.

Change, when it involves people, takes time and vigilance. As the old Latin proverb says – Repititio est mater studiorum (Repetition is the mother of learning). Changing behaviors, no matter how positive the change, just doesn’t happen right away. A customer service training workshop, for example, won’t effect much change in a workplace unless the skills introduced are championed and nurtured by the organization’s leadership. Your boss may just need a reminder of this.

The best way to deal with the Flavor of the Month boss is to talk with him about. But, rather than just tell him that what he is doing is stupid, give him suggestions as to how things can be more effective. For example, you might say, “Hey boss, I really liked the customer service training we did last month. I was thinking it might be a good idea to keep the focus on it for a couple more months to really help make it stick. I know you’re planning to have
everyone start focusing on loss prevention soon, but I really think there might be a benefit to holding off on that for a little while.”

Whatever you do, don’t be too hard on your Flavor of the Month boss. It could be worse. You could have a boss who just doesn’t care.

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