A new boss? Nurture your network

According to Set-Up-to-Fail Syndrome, a downward spiral of lack of trust and low expectations cause perfectly good employees to perform poorly under certain bosses, often new ones. The boss begins to label the subordinate as a weaker performer – not bad – but not outstanding. The boss’s behavior conveys a lack of trust and limited expectations. The employee’s performance tends to adjust up or down according to such expectations. This is a reciprocal process. Perhaps the subordinate says the boss is stubborn. From the moment the subordinate labels the boss, a similar pattern of expectations emerges. Just as bosses can drive subordinates to under perform, subordinates can drive bosses to be unreasonable. To protect yourself, nurture your network. Make sure those who like you remember that you exist. Repeat to yourself, “I don’t do my job for him/her. I do it because I like it.” People with staying power disconnect from the boss, but not the job.

Source: The Set-Up-to-Fail Syndrome, Harvard Press, Oct. 2002, as reviewed in Business 2.0, Nov. 2002.