What to Do When Your Manager is Angry With You

You have done something to annoy your manager.  Maybe you don`t know exactly what it is that you did, or perhaps you are well aware of how you crossed the line.  Whatever the reason, you need to deal with the fallout.  Here are some tips that will help you smooth it over:

Don’t lose perspective.  Believing that your manager is angry with you can be stressful, but try not to get carried away with it.  Is it possible that your manager is not angry with you at all, but that she’s stressed about something else?  Even if you did annoy her, it’s not the end of the world.  It is natural for managers to occasionally become frustrated with their employees and the feeling usually passes after a day or two.  

Address the problem.  Determine why your manager isn’t happy with you and take steps to fix the issue.  If you don’t know what the problem is, think back to when her behaviour changed.  Was there something that you said or did that may have annoyed her?  If you’re not sure, then ask your manager.  It is impossible for you to address the problem if you don`t know what`s wrong.

Keep a low profile.  If you have done something to annoy your manager, the last thing that she wants to see in her office is your smiling face.  Continue to do your work, but do your best to stay out of her hair.

Step up your performance.  In terms of your work performance, this is your time to shine.  Is there an area of your job where you have not been meeting your manager’s expectations?  Make a concerted effort to exceed them.  If you do it right, she`ll be so impressed by your achievements that she`ll forget that she was ever angry with you.

Most people agree that there is nothing worse than an angry boss, but try not to get too upset about it.  If you are generally a good employee and you are making an effort to fix your mistake, you`ll be back in your manager`s favour before you know it.

(Written by: Karen Bivand)


How to Stand Up to Your Manager

Something at work is making you angry.  You’ve been putting up with it for a while, but if you don’t speak up you feel like you might explode.  Here are some tips to help you address a problem with your manager in a way that won’t get you fired.

Be certain that it’s worth it.  In the workplace, it is essential that you selectively pick your battles.  If you confront your manager about everything that annoys you, you will quickly find yourself out of a job.  However, if you save your voice for issues that really matter, people will take you seriously when you raise a concern.

Be respectful.  The way that you communicate is just as important as what you are saying.  If you are unprofessional in the way that you confront your manager, you probably won’t get a good response.  However, if you are polite and respectful, people will be much more willing to listen to what you have to say.

Be specific.  Nothing is more frustrating to a manager than an employee who comes to them with vague problems.  Statements like, “You’re not very supportive!” or “The office environment has gone downhill!” are both negative and unhelpful.  Instead, provide your manager with a specific example of the problem like, “At the staff meeting, when you said that my plan was impossible, I felt unsupported.”  or, “Since the new system has come into effect, the environment in the office is much more tense”.  This gives your manager the information that they need to both understand and solve the problem.

Be open.  During the conversation, listen to what your manager says to you.  Be open to their feedback.  There may be something that you are doing that’s contributing to the problem.  If you demonstrate that you are open to changing your own behaviour, your manager will likely be more receptive to your concerns.

Addressing a problem with your manager can be scary.  You may even be afraid that you are putting your job at risk.  However, it doesn’t have to turn into a heated argument.  If you treat your manager with respect and stay focused on solving the problem, you should be able to address the issue without losing your job in the process.

(Written by: Karen Bivand)

Can a Workplace Conflict Cost You Your Job?

Being involved in a workplace conflict can make you feel insecure.  You may be worried that your manager will get the wrong impression of you.  This is a valid concern.  However, conflicts happen everyday and when you’re working with other people, they are to be expected.  You don’t get into trouble simply by being involved in a conflict.  However, problems can arise when you don’t handle it appropriately.  Here are some tips to help you address a conflict without risking your job:

Stay out of it.  Sometimes workplace conflict is unavoidable, but if it is at all possible for you to get out of the way, then do it.  There are rarely winners in workplace conflicts, so the less conflicts you are involved in, the better.

Play nice.  It’s advice that your mom gave you for the playground and it still holds true today.  When you are consistently courteous to your coworkers, you will maintain strong working relationships with them and you won’t give them any reason to complain about you.

Don’t put it in writing.  In this age of email communication, it is easy for people to take things out of context.  When you’re involved in a workplace conflict, it is better to communicate with your coworkers in person.  This helps to minimize misunderstandings and it removes the risk of your email being forwarded around the office.

Don’t make it personal.  Remember that you are there to do a job.  In many cases, if you are conflicting with a coworker, it is because there is a problem with the procedures.  It may have absolutely nothing to do with the people involved.  When you resist the temptation to lay blame and instead stay focused on solving the problem, you may find that the solution is right in front of you.

Say sorry.  Nobody enjoys a conflict.  Even when you handle it with the utmost of professionalism, it can still damage your relationship with your coworker.  Do whatever you can to make it better.  Apologize for any inconvenience that you may have caused.  Even if it wasn’t your fault, apologizing can make your work life a little bit easier.

While you may not be able to completely avoid a conflict, you can conduct yourself in such a way that it will not threaten your job.  When you consistently maintain your professionalism and you’re always nice to your coworkers, it’s unlikely that you’ll ever get into trouble because of a workplace conflict.

(Written by: Karen Bivand)

“FIGHT!” Learning the Dance Steps of Workplace Conflict

No matter how much you try to avoid it, at some point you will find yourself in a workplace conflict. If you are unprepared and handle the conflict poorly, it could cost you professional relationships and even your job. If you handle it well, it could be viewed as an example of your strong leadership and communication skills. Learning how to effectively handle workplace conflicts is well worth your time.

Rule #1: Don’t let the conflict get personal. Keep the conflict focused on the challenges of the position and the organization. Don’t attack anybody personally and refrain from getting emotional.

Rule #2: Don’t try to get other people on your side. This behaviour is unprofessional and can make a conflict more complicated and difficult to resolve. Keep the conflict limited to those who are directly involved.

Rule #3: Focus on maintaining the relationship. Even when conflicts are handled professionally, they can still cause strain on a relationship. Minimize this by demonstrating in your actions and communication that preserving the relationship is important to you.

Rule #4: Know when it is time to escalate. You should escalate conflict situations as a last resort. Only escalate the situation if you have done everything in your power to solve the conflict and the conflict is causing harm to the organization. When escalating the conflict, be as transparent as possible. Let the other party know that you are planning to escalate and invite them to be a part of the process.

Workplace conflicts can be challenging and emotionally draining, but since many people do not know how to handle them, it is an opportunity for you to distinguish yourself.

(Written by: Karen Bivand, Photo from: anankkml/FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

Do’s and Don’ts for Disagreeing With a Coworker

When you’re working closely with other people, sooner or later you’re going to have a disagreement.  Each of us bring our own motivations, opinions, experiences and styles to the workplace so it only makes sense that sometimes they will clash.   Disagreeing with a coworker is not a problem, it only becomes a problem when conflicts are not handled properly.  Here are some do’s and don’ts to help you ensure that you deal with workplace conflicts professionally:

1.  Do address the problem with your coworker respectfully and privately.  Most people appreciate it if you come to them directly with a concern.  Find a place where you can speak to your coworker alone and be polite and professional in the conversation.

2.  Don’t gossip about your coworker with other people.  Nothing makes people feel more attacked than having people talk about them.  How do you feel when you know that people are gossiping about you?  Don’t put your coworker in that position.  Speak to the person involved and then keep your mouth shut.

3.  Don’t escalate the problem to your manager until you’ve exhausted all other options.  Don’t be the person who goes running to their manager about every single conflict.  This behaviour will annoy your manager and alienate your coworkers.  Make every effort to address the conflict with your coworker.  If the two of you are not able to find a solution and you feel that the issue is important, only then should you talk to your manager.

4.  Do explain to your coworker why you disagree with them and offer alternative solutions.  When you talk to your coworker, do your best to make them understand exactly why you disagree with their approach.  Without placing blame, explain your position to them and give examples.  Offer them alternative solutions to the problem.

5,  Do listen to your coworker.  When you’re explaining your point of view to your coworker, there is a good chance that they will also want to provide theirs; take the time to listen to it.  Be open and genuinely consider their perspective.  Perhaps you disagree with your coworker because you don’t completely understand their point of view.

6.  Don’t take on every fight; choose your battles carefully.  Have you ever worked with someone who is always in one fight or another?  Did you avoid that person?  You aren’t always going to agree with your coworkers, but not every issue is worth a conflict.  In some cases, it is better just to ignore the situation and recognize that it’s not worth the trouble.

Workplace conflicts are not easy.  They can make you feel uncomfortable and they can potentially impact the way that you are viewed by your manager and your coworkers.  However, if you always remain professional and treat your coworkers with consideration, you should be able to navigate through any conflict with ease.

(Written by: Karen Bivand, Photo by: Stuart Miles/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

My Manager is Driving Me Crazy!

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)


When You’ve Been Treated Unfairly at Work

Nothing irks us more than being treated unfairly at work.  Part of you feels that everybody should stop what they’re doing and recognize the injustice.  Even when the consequences are insignificant, you are left with the unpleasant feeling that you’ve been wronged.  So what is the best way to handle this situation?  Here are some tips that may help:

Pick your battles.  Unfortunately, there is a lot of unfairness in the workplace.  Hard work is not always rewarded, and the best candidate doesn’t always get the promotion.  If you try to take a stand against every injustice that you see, you won’t get very much work done.  Sometimes you need to hold your nose (and your tongue) and accept that today just wasn’t your day.  Learn to distinguish between a big injustice that you cannot (and should not) accept, and small injustices that aren’t worth the time or trouble to fight.

Try to see the other point of view.  Often when you are treated unfairly, it is the result of an unintentional oversight.  For example, if you were scheduled to work on a day that you booked off, it is possible that the manager lost the form, or that they filled out the schedule incorrectly.  It is even possible that someone asked for that day off before you did.  Keep in mind that the situation may look very different from the other person’s perspective.

Explain why you felt that you were treated unfairly.  If you have decided that you need to address the issue, it is best to talk to the other person directly.  Approach them professionally and discreetly.  Without blaming, tell them how the situation made you feel.  Do your best to communicate your feelings while still preserving the relationship.

Reflect on the situation.  These difficult situations can be valuable learning experiences, but only if we take the time to reflect on them.  Do you feel that you handled the situation well?  How did the other person respond?  What would you do differently next time?

Bill Gates uttered a tough truth when he said, “life isn’t fair; get used to it.”  He is correct that if we go out into the world expecting fairness, we will be disappointed.  However, some situations truly are unjust and cannot be tolerated.  The secret is to know when to draw the line.

(Written by: Karen Bivand)