Why Happiness Is Not Your Boss’s Responsability

Ask any manager or business leader, and they will be tell you that employee engagement is hard. It’s a balancing act keeping your own boss happy, meeting your own deadlines and personal work expectations in addition to managing a team. The time you must spend to talk to that team, focus on their growth and wade through their expectations of you, their job and their development is exhausting. I’ve become that cynical manager that I always told myself I would never be, and it is here that I give my advice career development and workplace engagement secret to not just you, as the manager but you’re own team.

Take Ownership of Your Own Career

Stop waiting. Stop waiting for someone else to develop you. Take ownership of your own happiness, satisfaction and future. Happiness is a choice so is working. Stop waiting for your manager to peak behind their already full plate and focus on you, the employee. Get out there. Find your own development and work towards your own personal goal. Don’t wait for your manager to come with a plan to keep you engage. Quit expecting them to the focus on you. All good relationships like a marriage are a joint effort. Both parties should be equally responsible and equally involved.  The secret to workplace engagement and really any other type of personal engagement and happiness starts with you, the individual, the employee.

In my first post-college job, I worked in fear and waited for my boss to meet with me. I walked on eggshells because he never gave me any formal feedback, and when I did finally have the courage to ask, he invited me over to his house for a beer and to watch the football game. He was promoted not because he was a good leader but because he was someone everyone liked. That fact made me very angry. I could do his job. He was making the salary of a store manager when he wasn’t doing his job. It was a job I foolishly thought I could do six months post graduation. I deserved to be developed and treated with respect. I became bitter, entitled and a disengaged employee.

I was desperate for feedback and wanting to learn, and became extremely angry and bitter towards him because he wasn’t thinking about my needs. In truth, the guy, my boss had performance improvement problems and personal issues of his own. He was a dad of 4 kids and trying to hold his own life together. As a new store manager, it wasn’t going well. I learned that just 8 months at his store, that he was on a performance improvement plan or PIP of his own. He was going to lose his job. There was no time to consider his employees.

The guy was drowning, and after getting over being that angry victim, I realized the only way I could be happy and get some direction was to do it on my own. I had to stop waiting on someone else and focus on me.

Happiness & Workplace Engagement are Fluid

Engagement and happiness are fluid. They are constantly evolving and changing. If you are expecting your boss to be in tune with your individual needs without communicating to them and being upfront with them on what you want, you are on your way to a path of workplace disengagement with no one else to blame.


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Jessica Miller-Merrell

Learn more about Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, the founder of Workology, a workplace HR resource, and the host of the Workology Podcast. More of her blogs can be found here.


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