What do I do about a boss who keeps changing their mind?

What do I do about a boss who keeps changing their mind?

Question: Our CEO, to whom I report, changes his mind quite literally every second day. Strategic direction is just one example. Two of his most recent suggestions were so ridiculous I honestly thought he was joking. He wasn’t and I didn’t know where to look.

How do you get your leader to stick to one thing at a time: one strategy, problem to solve or task to accomplish — just be consistent for the sake of the organisation?

Illustration: John Shakespeare Credit:

Answer: I suspect some might look at a problem like this and ask you to reconsider the question, to ask yourself how you can adapt. That might be because they believe that in a hierarchy, a lower-ranked person should always bend to the whims of a higher-up, or for purely pragmatic reasons — it’s easier to shift your own perspective than someone else’s.

But let’s say you do make a change. Let’s say you start coming to work expecting the unexpected. You step into your office each morning and mentally prepare for an entirely novel challenge. You wholly embrace the idea that variety is the spice of life and when you reach into your career cupboard, you’re not satisfied until you’ve reached past the black peppercorns and cinnamon and found the green cardamom, fenugreek and star anise.

Let’s say you try that — or any number of alternative tactics. Will they improve the situation?

I don’t think so, and that’s because there’s something essential missing here: internal logic. All worlds need it. Not just the worlds in TV shows and books and games, but the worlds of our work lives.

While not everyone needs work to be exactly the same every day, we all need the main rules to stay basically the same every day. If the goalposts change position, if one player rolls with a single dice and another gets to use three, if what seemed impossible in episode one is now entirely plausible in episode seven, an element of “well what’s the point?” creeps in.

No workplace is perfectly fair, but when the rules aren’t remotely consistent — when everything is in constant flux and little makes sense — frustration can turn to indifference or despair.

So how do you improve the situation?

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