Old-fashioned corporate values die hard - is it time to break free from your dinosaur of a boss?
By 2020, the workplace is going to be made up of five different generations. As employees of differing ages fill up the modern workspace, most will work hard to overcome their varying values and experiences so that they can learn from each other and work well together.
Sadly, there will always be a few people who get left behind – people who resist change and think that they know best. You won’t be surprised to hear that this resistance is often more common in those who are senior in the company; the bosses who have got used to getting their way and subscribe unwaveringly to outdated values.
What I’m really talking about here is the archetypal ‘corporate dinosaur’ – the problem with this particular office character is that in refusing to move with the times they not only stifle their own creativity, they also stifle the creativity of those working for them.
So, how can employees actually identify whether their boss is a ‘corporate dinosaur’? Well, if any of these nine tell-tale responses sound familiar, you may just be working under a boss whose values are stuck in prehistoric times:
1. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”
Though this is a classic and familiar phrase, it no longer applies in our modern world – with the introduction of the digital realm, everything moves faster than ever before.
Staying the same won’t just limit your potential, it’ll leave you in the dust of your competitors. Bosses who dodge change limit the new and creative ideas needed to keep the company progressing forward.
2. “There’s no room for mistakes”
I talk extensively about the culture of fear harboured around making mistakes – and this is despite the fact that failure is a key component of success. Ultimately, “winners fail more times than losers even try” – if your boss is unaccepting of mistakes, they are also unaccepting of big successes.
3. “We don’t have time for daydreaming”
It’s a common misconception that daydreaming is “slacking off” – in actual fact, focussed daydreaming is an important problem-solving technique that produces creative solutions. Bosses who don’t allow their team to pause and let their mind wander pave the way for stressed employees lacking solutions.
4. “What do you think of this idea?”
Good bosses are aware of the influence their seniority holds. Asking a leading question like ‘what do you think of this idea?’ is likely to bring a positive, but not necessarily honest, response.
Good leaders combat this by reframing their language, instead asking ‘what’s wrong with this idea?’ This allows their employees to feel comfortable being honest, thus providing valuable feedback.
5. “We need something tried and tested”
This is something especially common in big organizations. The fear of misstepping prevents leaders from going for “risky” ideas, but – much like with ‘it ain’t broke don’t fix it’ – playing it safe is limiting. Breaking the mould is the best way to obtain growth and achieve ambitions.
6. “None of our competitors are doing that”
There is, of course, a lot to be learned from your company’s competitors – but if your business’s approach falls back on simply copying competitors then you’re never going to be able to excel past them. Trying something a competitor isn’t doing might just be the best way to get ahead.
7. “We can’t diverge from the market research”
Again, like monitoring competitors, market research is undeniably valuable – but good bosses understand that data doesn’t always paint the full picture of customer experience.
Just like the now infamous market research fail experienced by Coke, innovative bosses take into consideration all information - not just that collected from customers.
8. “Why aren’t you working?”
As the importance of company culture has become a bigger priority, many companies have introduced facilities which put an emphasis on maintaining a healthy body and mind, with gyms and games rooms cropping up in many offices globally.
The irony is, the corporate dinosaurs of the world actually challenge individuals for making use of these work benefits, showing no awareness of the value they bring to employee morale and their overall health.
9. “I already have a great idea”
As the French Philosopher, Emile Charter once said – “nothing is more dangerous than an idea when it’s the only one we have.”
If your boss is quick to favour their own personal idea – without exploring other options, or being open to other possibilities – they are likely engaging in ‘selective thinking’.
The problem with selective thinking is that once someone (in this case, your boss) has a great idea, rather than challenging it – they look to justify it, hence, ultimately, they inhibit the production of new, fresh ideas.
If these phrases are all too common in your workplace, then the diagnosis is clear – your boss is suffering from all the usual pitfalls of old fashioned corporate values.
While no one can give you a time machine, presenting new and creative ideas (provided with explanations on how they benefit business) might just be key to pulling your boss back into the modern age.
In our multi-generational workspace, there’s no longer room for outdated values, so getting your boss to loosen up and embrace change may just be the best bet for the future of the business.
The Creative Thinking Handbook – Your Step-By-Step Guide to Problem Solving in Business by Chris Griffiths and Melina Costi is out now, published by Kogan Page.
Is Your Boss A Corporate Dinosaur? Nine Responses Which Kill Creativity