You love your job, but there is one problem- your manager. It seems like you can never get on your manager’s good side, and it is stressing you out. Nothing that you do is ever enough. Your dream job has turned into a nightmare. If this describes your situation, don’t despair. It is not hopeless. Here are some suggestions that will help you handle this difficult situation:
Keep notes. Make notes about any conflicts that you have with your manager. Include details about what triggered the conflict, what was said, and how it was resolved. These notes will make it easier for you to assess what is causing the problem, and will also be helpful if the situation escalates.
Evaluate your own behaviour. Is there anything that you are doing that is causing, or aggravating the conflict? Sometimes making a small change in the way that you work, or the way that you communicate can lead to a significant improvement in your relationship with your manager.
Be Specific. Take the time to review your notes and reflect on the situation. What exactly bothers you about the way that you and your manager interact? Make a note of recent examples. What would make things better? How would your manager need to change so that you would be happy at work?
Now that you have taken the time to reflect on the situation, you need to take action. You have several options:
Ride It Out: This is clearly the path of least resistance, and sometimes it is appropriate. It might be best just to endure the situation if it doesn’t really affect you, if you are planning to leave the organization (or the position) in the near future, or if you think that the manager will not be in the position for long. In these cases, it may not be worth the trouble to confront your manager.
Talk to Your Manager: This is where all of your notes and reflections will come in handy. Communicate your concerns with your manager. Be specific about what bothers you and provide examples. Ask them for feedback on what you can do to improve the relationship. Let them know what you need to see changed in order for you to be happy. Some managers will respond in a positive way to this conversation and others will not. You cannot control how they respond. However, it is important that you keep your own emotions in check and that you act professionally.
To Escalate or Not to Escalate: If you have addressed your concerns with your manager and nothing has changed then you have a decision to make: Do you endure the situation, look for another job, or escalate it to a higher manager? If you decide to escalate the situation, you should be prepared to leave the organization. In many cases, the organization will back the manager and leave it up to them to solve their staffing problems. Also, keep in mind that escalating the situation could cost you the reference. However, if you feel that your manager is being abusive, and you have faith that the upper level management will support you, then it may be worth bringing it to their attention.
Time to Move on: If you have exhausted all of your other options, then it might be time to look for your next opportunity. This situation is probably not going to get better on its own, so get out there and find an environment that is a better fit.
Remember that every situation is different and what may work in one organization, could be disastrous in another. Choose the solution that works for you and your unique circumstances. If you truly are miserable, then it is important that you do something to remedy the situation. Life is too short for you to spend every weekend dreading Monday morning.
(Written by: Karen Bivand)