‘I really dislike my new boss!’ Mena commented to me in her office the other day. So what should you do if you really don’t get on with your immediate manager?
One alternative might be to ask for a transfer to another department but that is not always possible and, in any event, you could lose seniority and slow down your career progression.
There is no question that in a situation in which you experience a personality clash with your boss, it is recommended that you try every possible strategy to resolve the situation to make it workable. Always remember that changing jobs can take you to another company in which there may be problems with your new boss! Then what?
So what can you do about it? Well, let’s think firstly about whether your boss is a ‘difficult person’ or a ‘difficult manager’ then you need to ascertain which one is the accurate assessment.
If it is that the person is a bad manager, then the chances are that they don’t offer essential leadership in giving direction or in establishing priorities and you feel that your path to being successful in your job is being impeded. If this is the case, then you may have to compensate for these perceived issues by carefully modified planning and a revised structural work process, to compensate.
However, if they are just a difficult personality and there is a character trait that you really don’t like, then you’ll have to examine your feelings to see if you can modify your mindset and emotional reactions.
Here are some questions that could help you with this process:
- Does your boss get on with others in your team?
- Could you be contributing to the mutually poor relationship?
- Are you being hyper-sensitive because you perceive him or her as a barrier to your chosen career path?
- Are you letting emotional responses get the better of you?
- Is the animosity mutual or unilateral? If so, which side?
A productive discussion with a colleague or HR may enable you to work on strategies to keep your mind on your work and not on your boss’s personality by helping you to control your emotional response on the things that irritate you, and to figure out ways of adapting and adjusting to your differences so that you can both move forward.
I’m not saying that this is easy and your reply might be that you don’t have any respect for your boss. You may not think that they are properly qualified to do their job, are a poor communicator, or inefficient at setting expectations or publishing priorities and so on. But the reality is that as your designated manager, they have a right to demand your respect and co-operation because they have been authorised to take responsibility for you and the work that you produce, usually as a proportionate part of a larger project or work contract. And it should not be forgotten that they, themselves, have a responsibility to their immediate manager. In every organisation, each employee is a link in a chain that produces a specific item, product or service. Any link that is weak can fail, and any failed link means the chain is broken.
So let’s look at some quick tips to help you along the way:
- Learn to focus on the content and not the delivery of any instruction.
- Accept that very often an attitude projected that is not conducive to friendship is not necessarily intentional but merely indicative of mood or pressure, or stress.
- Try to not take a difficult situation home with you- although I know that this is easier said than done.
- Talk to your boss. See what common ground you have between you. Discuss working more efficiently and effectively as a team and what improvements could possibly make this happen. Ask about his/her priorities to see how you could better match yours to theirs.
Let’s not forget that many apparently impossible situations can be resolved with good communications. Managing to live and/or work with people we may find difficult, is a lifetime skill that we all have to learn.
- Better to find common ground than to change jobs
- We all have character traits. Learn to live with those of others
- As with many situations, good communication is vital
Written by Carole Spiers and reprinted with the kind permission of Gulf News.
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