Unhappy at Work? Try Selling Your Boss

Sick of your boss? Sell him.


A new advertisement from an online recruiting company suggests that disgruntled employees would do well to cast off nasty superiors by referring them to jobs at other companies. A successful referral, according to the ad, would result in a cash reward for the employee.

"Who hasn't thought about getting rid of his boss?" said Dr. Andreas Koestler, the chief executive of Yello PTE, the company behind the promotion. "That would be a new way of actually making money getting rid of your boss."

The ad, an animated viral video released earlier this year on YouTube, Google Video and other Web sites, is for Yellojobs.com, a job listings Web site based in India and Thailand that allows users to recommend jobs to others. (Yello PTE is a parent company of Yellojobs.com) If someone is hired as a result of a user's recommendation, the user is compensated for his efforts with cash.

The video is targeted at an Indian audience. It begins with Prakash, an animated character aggravated by a boss who barks orders with grating frequency. Things looks dismal for the put-upon man until a light bulb appears over his head (literally) and a light techno soundtrack foreshadows the happy times to come: Suddenly, Prakash is typing furiously at his computer. Shortly thereafter, his boss receives a phone call, smiles and bids Prakash good-bye. After he leaves, Prakash pulls out a wad of bills and counts them with glee.

The ad, which was produced by the marketing company Regalix, tells "a nice little story that you might want to laugh at," Koestler said. But chuckles aside, Koestler said he believes it is possible for people to use the Web site to find new jobs for their bosses.

The ad doesn't quite tell the whole story. Watching the video alone may lead a user to assume that a referral can be made anonymously and that your boss will never know that you had a hand in that sudden, grin-inducing recruitment call. Not so — potential recruits are first invited to apply for a job in an e-mail that also names the person making the referral.

Indian residents who make successful referrals — whether it's for a boss, a friend or whomever — stand to earn 5,000 rupees, the equivalent of roughly $133. Yellojobs also plans to expand to the United States in May and will offer Americans $1,500 for successful referrals, Koestler said.

To Roy Lubit, the author of the book "Coping with Toxic Managers, Subordinates … and Other Difficult People: Using Emotional Intelligence to Survive and Prosper," it all seems like a fine idea.

"It does sound like a very creative way to deal with a problematic boss," said Lubit, who works as an executive coach and an organizational consultant. "It's certainly a lot friendlier than trying to get the boss fired for their bad behavior."

Even though an employee may not have the purest of motivations for finding his or her boss another job, as long as the boss lands in a better position, the referral was a good move, Lubit said.

Not everyone agrees.

Harry Schubert, a division manager for a computer-assisted design business in New Jersey, said that trying to recruit out an unpleasant boss is "a little shady."

"There's got to be better ways to work with people above you than trying to find them a new job," Schubert said.

Richard Highley, a display manager living in London, also dismissed the idea. At his job, Highley manages a staff of four.

"As a manager, I think you should help them [employees] get a better job, not the other way around," he said.

Highley said that if his staff did send him a job referral, he would worry that he was being a bad boss and that they really were trying to get rid of him.

"If my staff said I think this job would be quite good for you," Highley said, "it would actually upset me."

Ronnie Jones, a manager at the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers in New York, had personal reasons for taking a pass on the sell-your-boss idea.

"My boss and I have been together for 30 years," she said. "We're almost like sisters. It's good."

But she didn't reject the concept outright. If faced with a bad boss, Jones said she would try to sell her — and fast.

"In a New York minute," she said.


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