Psychologically, the workplace is in a state of constant free-floating anxiety. A lot of factors have contributed to and sustain this state including high unemployment, corporate downsizings, potential financial calamities in Europe, the depressed housing market, the erosion of manufacturing in America, and serious concerns about whomever finally becomes the next President of the United States.
The adverse effects of constant free-floating anxiety as related to work are well known. These include distraction, procrastination, missed deadlines, poor quality results, depression, excessive consumption of alcohol, and fears that can decrease morale and increase a range of psychosomatic symptoms.
What is less well-known—or discussed—about this type of anxiety is one very bad way many people try to manage it. Based on my conversations with numerous CEOs and other senior executives, I call this piling on the boss—or the POB Effect.
Here’s an example of how it happens. You are anxious about your continued employment in a company where you have worked for many years. You manage to get some face-to-face time with the top person in your organization—a person who is travelling constantly and is booked solid from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. most days.
In that 30-minute meeting, you say he needs to know how low the morale is currently because people don’t feel empowered, they don’t trust senior management given a lack of communication, and they’re worried for their jobs because of a rumored reorganization. At the end of the meeting, you ask him what your potential is in the company and give a blitz summary of your particular skills and accomplishments. Because you have completely POB-ed him, his reaction is bland and non-committal.
If you want to get ahead, avoid the POB Effect and remember the following: