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How to deal with a manager who hates you

Rob Enderle | May 2, 2016
Sometimes it’s your boss, sometimes it’s you. Columnist Rob Enderle writes that it’s important to figure out why you and your manager don’t get along. Then you have to decide if it’s something you can fix or if you simply need to get the hell out.

I’d begin by tracking down some of your manager’s ex-employees and ask how they did with your manager. If they had issues like yours -- particularly if they claim abuse, but have done well subsequent to leaving -- get out, don’t try to fix it. You can’t fix a bad manager. Working for a bad or abusive manager is just waste of your time. I would suggest, upon your exit interview, formally calling out the abuse because that may help your ex-coworkers and you aren’t going to get a good reference regardless of what you do.  

Now if they didn’t have an issue with your manager, set up a meeting with the manager and explain your frustration. If they are good they’ll work with you to fix the problem, if they aren’t or the relationship is unsalvageable, then, once again get out. You are wasting your time.

Getting your manager fired

There is an old rule about advancement in that if you become expert at making your manager look good you’ll be seen as an asset. Getting your manager fired, however, can have the opposite impact on your career and turn you into a pariah if you aren’t very, very careful.   Generally, it is your manager’s manager who is responsible for eliminating a bad manager. As an employee you just aren’t well-positioned enough to both get the job done and assure some massive stigma isn’t connected to your job history.

Be social

The people who typically seem to have problems with co-workers and managers are those who don’t develop social relationships with those co-workers and managers. There are firms that have rules against fraternizing with direct reports and never ever date a manager or a subordinate unless you want to experience true hell. However, upwardly mobile managers will often take a few employees with them as they move up and I’ve seen folks who had great relationships with their managers change places with them every few years as one gets promoted or finds a job at another company and then hires the other.  

This team approach to advancement can be incredibly powerful and the shared candor can put you in far more favorable position with the manager. In addition, it can do wonderful things for your stress levels because you know someone has your back and less things will be going on that you don’t know about.

By the way, this is one of the risks of working remote, others will be closer to management and co-workers and likely be better thought of (less likely to be laid off or passed over) and better informed. Folks who advance quickly rarely work from home, then again working from home has a different set of offsetting rewards. It just depends on your priorities. (Always keep in mind your priorities when making decisions like whether to go to work or work from home.)


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