You don’t have to be best friends with your boss to be happy in your career. But tension — either real or perceived — between you and your supervisor can slowly make you become more and more unhappy at work. And aside from making a move to be your own boss, figuring out a rhythm with your manager is essential to staying happy, having a successful annual review and growing in your career. Luckily, Amanda Sowadski, a life and leadership coach and founder of the Institute for Feminine Leadership, shared with us the tell-tale signs that there might be an issue between you and your boss, AND what you can do to remedy the situation.
Signs Your Boss Hates You
1. You’re spending less time together: Ghosting isn’t just for Tinder dates. If you notice you’re interacting less than usual or your interactions seem different, there might be an issue. Amanda adds, “For example, your boss may start assigning projects to other team members because he/she is frustrated with your performance. This will result in fewer calls or emails between the both of you, because you are no longer working on the plumb assignments. You might also notice that your boss used to regularly meet with you in person, but now he/she primarily sends you emails or instant messages. It could also be that your boss asks someone else on the team to communicate with you, leaving you cut off from direct communication.”
2. You have to document everything: If texting or instant messaging used to be common forms of communication, but emails and more formal sign offs are becoming the norm, this might be a sign your boss is trying to make a point. Amanda says, “Any time a boss is looking to make a case to put an employee on a Personal Improvement Plan, they will need to gather evidence of poor performance. They will start asking you to send project updates via email, instead of just allowing you to debrief them over the phone or in person. They may ask you more questions about who you talked to, what you’ve done or what meetings you’ve attended so they can get a better understanding of the situation.”
3. They’re being cold: As wonderful as it is to have a work bestie, the truth is, some management styles don’t really allow for a personal connection. “It could be that there is nothing about your performance that your boss doesn’t like, but he/she just doesn’t connect with you as a person. It’s possible your boss doesn’t like you because you have nothing in common to bond over other than work, and so there isn’t any personal connection. This can feel like your boss doesn’t like you but isn’t as big a red flag when it’s not connected to performance issues,” advises Amanda.
How to Fix Your Relationship With Your Boss
1. Set a meeting: “Ask your boss for a one-on-one meeting where you can get some feedback on what is upsetting him/her,” says Amanda. “But be sure to keep the meeting professional and ask for honest, constructive criticism.” Come prepared to identify where you think you have fallen short and ask for their feedback as well, to corroborate your self-assessment. Then let your boss know you’ve prepared some ideas on how you can improve and what you need in order to be most effective. The key here is to take ownership of the situation and show that you are actively looking for a solution.
2. Write down everything: After you’ve sat down and come up with a plan to move forward, the best way to make sure you both stay on track and that communication is crystal clear is to document everything. “Document the plan and provide daily status updates,” says Amanda. “Daily might seem like a lot, but you want to turn the situation around as quickly as possible, and you can do that by letting your boss know what you have done that day as part of the plan. This doesn’t have to be a lengthy communication, but just something quick and to the point to illustrate that you are making changes.”
3. Be a great communicator: “Proactively inform your boss of any challenges you are having or any roadblocks you are encountering as you complete your tasks. You want to ask for help before it turns into an emergency,” says Amanda. She adds, “one of the reasons bosses get upset is because they get blindsided. No one wants a surprise when they’ve assigned something to someone, only to find the project has been derailed.”
And as important as it is to communicate, it’s even more important to become an expert listener. Amanda agrees, saying, “Too often we want to try to justify why our boss should like us, instead of focusing on what they are trying to tell us about how to be more successful. When you truly listen to your boss and repeat back what you heard, then your boss will feel more like you understand.”
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