- He wants to be your mentor: Has your boss taken a sudden interest in your ambitions, dreams, hopes, and goals? That's not old-fashioned small talk. He's trying to figure out what he can do to fabricate the illusion of fufillment so you might actually get some work done.
- He's stopped ordering you around: Instead of barking commands like an angry sea captain, your boss will start explaining why filing those TPS reports will save the company — and stop global warming, blah blah blah. He's hoping that, under the delusion that all will fall apart without you, you'll take them on as a moral obligation.
- He sets up a suggestion box: We hate being told what to do. Our parents had more sense than that: Our therapists told them confrontation might forever warp our fragile psyches. If your boss starts soliciting suggestions, watch out: If you're not careful, he'll brainwash you into thinking it was your idea to do the work in the first place.
- He invites you out to happy hours: He's trying to show that, hey, just because he's a stodgy old guy, he can be your friend too. It's a ploy. He's hoping these staged social interactions will boost your self-esteem, and, in the end, your output.
If you notice any of these warning signs, it's time to jump ship.
(Photo by Steve McFarland)