Science says there are two types of bad bosses. But there’s also the possibility that while you see the person you report to as Miranda’s clone from The Devil Wears Prada and feel like she totally hates you, she could actually be doing a great job to help you reach your full potential. We talked to Sophia Hyder, an international development pro and cultural etiquette expert, to help clarify when it’s time to cut your boss a break or make some personal (and professional) changes. Keep reading for four times where you could be the one to blame for a tough working relationship, as well as how to fix it.
You’re not communicating clearly
“Some people feel vulnerable about asking for help when they feel overwhelmed, and totally fail to ask for it when they need it most,” Hyder says. “When this happens, you might unintentionally fail to clearly communicate what you’ve been working on — so your boss has legitimately no idea how to guide you.” Solid point.
How to Fix It: Since this issue happens to the most hard-working people, Hyder suggests thinking about your work relationship just like you might a personal one. “Remember that in any healthy relationship, communication is key,” she notes. “Your boss isn’t a mind reader, so they won’t know how to help problem-solve if they don’t even know a problem exists. Fill them in, and ask for help or guidance.”
You have a hard time adapting to change
“An employee who can’t accommodate structural changes is really hard for a boss to coach and manage,” Hyder tells us. “While you might believe a process is working well and that you shouldn’t have to adapt to a new environment, you need to *always* be a team player first.” Try to remember that your boss likely has more intel and a higher level vision than you do, and that she’s not the devil for switching things up.
How to Fix It: Have questions or anxiety about a change? Bring them to your boss directly. You should always feel empowered to ask questions and suggest improvements. Your boss will appreciate how much you care about the work flow.
You’re Immediately Defensive
Feedback can be hard to hear, especially if you’re sensitive about a project you’ve poured your heart and soul into. While taking it can be tough, Hyder stresses the importance of learning to incorporate an outside view into what you’re working on. “Instead of seeing feedback from your boss as a personal attack, take it as observations,” she advises. “Then, you won’t feel paralyzed or anxious and can become even better at your job.” Another mistake? Placing blame. “Trying to find fault can create a ton of tension for a team, and it makes it super hard for your boss to use and improve members’ skill sets,” Hyder explains. Speaking poorly of your boss behind their back because you’re upset about feedback they’ve shared is another major no-no.
How to Fix It: Do your best to listen, ask thoughtful questions, and take notes when you do receive feedback, rather than immediately defending yourself or placing blame. Take the time you need to fully process criticisms — and if you still feel like they’re outlandish, hurtful, or not conducive to growth, share your feelings with the HR department.
You’ve Started to Feel Entitled
If you’ve been at your company for a while, it’s possible you’ve lost some of the excitement and energy you had when you first started, whether you realize it or not. “Feel like you won’t be fired because you’ve been loyal? Remember that you still need to hustle, act like a team player, and push yourself. You shouldn’t feel like you’re entitled to pick and choose just because you’ve been around longer; sometimes, people have a more specialized skill set for a project, and it can help the team and company better succeed,” Hyder says. “This definitely doesn’t mean you have a bad boss.” You still have to earn your successes, no matter how long you’ve been working at a place.
How to Fix It: Own your strengths, define your interests, and set goals that’ll keep you as challenged and energized as when you first took the job. Take initiative to discuss these things with your boss in your next one-on-one meeting or review. If there’s no longer room for you to grow or you discover that your skills no longer suit the team, start thinking about your next opportunity. Variety is the spice of life, after all.
Have an awesome boss? Tell us why they rock and how much you appreciate them on Twitter @BritandCo!
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