There was an interesting piece in Lifehacker yesterday that summarized a number of studies on the effects a bad boss can have on your life. Among other sources, it cites a study by Université Francois Rabelais, and published in the Journal of Business and Psychology (but you can read about it in The Atlantic). The gist of that study as well as the others they mention is that the effect of having a bad boss can go way beyond the office:
The psychological climate in which you work has a lot to do with your health and happiness. Recent research has found, perhaps not surprisingly, that bad bosses can affect how your whole family relates to one another. They can also affect your physical health, raising your risk for heart disease.
The Lifehacker article goes on to discuss a number of ways in which one can deal with a bad boss including hobbies, meditation, the HR department, leaving, and others. Of interest to me is that they don’t discuss my preferred solution which is not to get yourself working for a bad boss in the first place.
As I’ve mentioned before, the very first question one should ask when discussing a new job opportunity with a recruiter is “to whom do I report?” Once you have that name, it’s on you to do every bit of research you can to find out if that person is a fantastic supervisor or Miranda Priestly, the bad boss from hell in The Devil Wears Prada. Talk to contacts at the company or people who’ve worked for/with the boss-to-be. A nice title, a nice paycheck, and other things should not cloud your thinking about the potential gig if the boss doesn’t check out.
Of course many of us have been in a situation where the boss changes – the dream for whom you went to work is promoted or leaves and working for the new boss is less preferable than sitting at home ripping out your fingernails with a pliers. Having had that happen to me on a few occasions, I took my own advice and left. Loved the company, loved my co-workers, loved my job, hated my boss. No contest. Is that always the smartest choice? Yes, as long as your perspective isn’t focused solely on money (and I get that sometimes it needs to be) as these studies show. It’s definitely not the easiest choice.
What do you think? Have you ever left a job you loved because of a bad boss?
For those of you with children (or those of you who can recall when the adults you’ve raised were children), you might remember one of the great parental moments. It’s the one where the child – probably only 4 or so – realizes that they can do things for themselves. Maybe it’s pour a drink of water or maybe it’s get dressed on their own. No matter which of the dozens of tasks we as parents undertook for our kids, at some point we all hear “I can do that all by myself!”
I bring this up because by the time most folks are old enough to use the web, they can do most things by themselves. Which is why I can’t understand many sites’ choices to present audio or video elements which aren’t user-initiated. As someone who used to run a large site that made a fair amount of money based on ad views, I get that showing more ads is a good thing. But as someone who spends too much time (and more than a second is too much time) finding and closing the pane providing me with an annoying sound or a video that’s running down my laptop’s battery, I can’t help but wonder if web-masters are doing this just to increase their video views, ads served, or audio files played. They can’t be doing it because users like it. More importantly, advertisers are starting to ask the same question and about how it affects consumer response to and engagement with their ad.
In case you’re unfamiliar with the term, auto-initiated content is that which plays automatically when users visit a web page. According to SpotXchange, which is a video ad network and market:
There is a significant difference between auto- and user-initiated video ads, which results in two different user experiences. An auto-initiated ad plays automatically when a user visits a web page, but the video ad does not block the user from viewing intended content. User-initiated ads must be viewed by consumers before reaching their desired content, such as a video or game. Because higher levels of consumer engagement are associated with user-initiated video ads, advertisers are willing to pay a premium for them.
By not letting the user decide what they want to see, publishers may actually be shooting themselves in the foot, since the value of the content displayed is diminished. We can all do the web all by ourselves and choose what we want to see and hear. Turns out it’s better business too to let the user decide. Imagine that!