~by Susan McGuire~
Ever have an unfair boss who made your life miserable? What about a supervisor who had it in for you? These could be potentially damaging to your career… and to your health.
But what to do about it?
First, I shouldn’t have to state the obvious, but… managers are people too. Though you might disagree. And therefore, as humans, they are flawed, just as we all are. They may be wrong in some cases, but then, they may also be right… perhaps you were in the wrong?
I’ve had my share of “bad boss” issues, but one particular incident really stuck with me. To this day, I’m not only surprised at how well my own actions turned things around, but I’m also impressed that a boss who had been so against me, completely switched gears. Here’s my story:
My boss in this case, I’ll call him Theo, had it in for me. For reasons I was unaware of, he thought I was working against him. Though he may not have been my favorite person, he was my manager and deserved my best work. Despite my efforts, my standing within my department was plummeting. I was perceived as a low performer based on metrics they were using.
Concerned, I decided to do something about it. I knew management didn’t have their metrics straight, so I pulled together more accurate metrics to make my case. Other than this, I didn’t have a plan, but late one afternoon I marched into Theo’s office to talk openly with him. Rather than accuse my manager of treating me unfairly, I told him what he wanted to hear – with 4 simple words. It worked better than I expected, but that goes to show that Theo was at least a little open-minded.
What did I say to him?
I started off with, “I’m on your side”. I continued with, “I’m not working against you”. Once I knew Theo was willing to listen and that he would not be on the defensive, I presented MY metrics showing that those they had been using were missing a bunch of relevant data. After carefully reviewing my numbers, Theo realized the discrepancy, and showed valid concern – not only for drawing the wrong conclusions about my performance, but he started to wonder just how inaccurate and unfair their metrics were for his other employees.
Because of his earlier impressions of me, my job was in jeopardy. So starting the next day, Theo began jumping through hoops to reposition my standing with his management. He had to do some serious backpedaling, but he did it. He had revealed to me that I was targeted for their next ‘resource action’, or layoff. When that time inevitably came, I was not the one who got laid off. He had indeed fought for me. My metrics were so compelling, he completely changed his view about how metrics were gathered and how his employees were evaluated. He was grateful that I had presented this evidence, but he also appreciated my approach and attitude. This shift in our relationship was significant.
Here are my top 5 tips for forging a favorable relationship with your manager:
- Let your manager know you want to make them look good. Everyone wants an ally. If they know you’re on their side, then they’ll likely see you as a collaborator and team player – someone they know they can turn to.
- Ask, “What can I do extra to help meet your goals?”. Now, this does not mean you shouldn’t think for yourself, but rather, that you are willing to go above and beyond. You can work on a project you enjoy, but if it is not in line with your manager’s goals or visions, it won’t help your career much. Ask to be put on highly visible projects.
- Give your manager the benefit of the doubt. Were they just having a bad day? Or is their negative behavior becoming a pattern? Handle accordingly.
- Deal with relationship issues directly. If your manager is exhibiting consistent and persistent negative behavior towards you, it’s time to talk. Do not start by going over their head. Give your boss a chance to explain and adjust on their own. If they aren’t willing, or if the situation gets worse or escalates, then it’s time to go to Human Resources or to their manager. Which one will depend on the circumstances.
- This is a big one. Do not go to your manager with problems. Your manager has enough to deal with. The last thing they want is to be given more problems to handle, and worse yet, you’ll be like a thorn in their side. Instead, present solutions. You may have to first explain a potential problem, but then quickly go into your proposed solution. This shows creativity and initiative on your part.
There are many poor managers out there, and circumstances vary greatly. Often, it’s just a matter of misunderstandings, or possibly a personality conflict. These less complicated issues are easier to work through. By treating your manager with respect, and by having compassion for his/her human flaws, you’ll improve your chances for a better career and more fulfilling work relationships. In addition, challenging situations and difficult relationships are chronically stressful. So by improving your work relationships, you’ll reduce your stress levels and improve your overall health.
Have you ever had a challenging or difficult boss? How did you handle it?
Meet the Author: Susan McGuire
As a Holistic Health Coach and Lifestyle Guide, Susan takes a practical, comprehensive and personalized approach as she supports and empowers her clients to achieve their health and lifestyle goals. Coach Susan meets her clients where they are, and works with them to find the right combination of positive lifestyle and behavioral changes that they can implement with lasting results.
If you’re ready, willing and motivated to take charge of your health and transform your life, then consider talking with Coach Susan.
To take the next step towards achieving your health goals, schedule your complimentary Breakthrough Session with Coach Susan:
• Website: www.McGHealthCoach.com/contact-susan-mcguire
• Email: McG.HealthCoach@gmail.com