You’ve probably had (or you currently have) a bad manager. This is a person that falls into some of the classic “managerial traps:”
- Authoritarian, manages your every move
- Stubborn, not willing to listen to suggestions, “my way or the highway”
- Only provides negative feedback, ignores positive results (or takes credit for them)
- Never at fault, blames everyone else – or everything else
- Good at the technical aspects of the job, terrible at the people-oriented aspects (or bad at both!)
Whether because managers don’t want to be managers, they weren’t given enough training in being a manager, or they are simply losing a battle against their own inner demons, we – as employees – don’t care why our managers are bad, we just want them to get better.
Better management is a perfectly reasonable expectation in today’s workplace. Based on the title of this article, however, you can probably guess at (and I’m willing to bet some of you may even take offense at) my overall proposal: we all bear some of the responsibility to ensure that our relationships with our managers are successful.
ARE YOU ON AUTO-PILOT?
You’ve been angry at your manager for making a decision you didn’t like. You’ve gotten defensive when your manager provided feedback. You’ve wondered why your manager can’t “just let me do my job.” We’ve all reacted like this, we’ll all do it again, and it’s a perfectly natural reaction.
Add ‘em up
Have you ever thought about how often you react negatively to your manager? Do you disagree with every decision? Do you get defensive every time you receive feedback? While you’re making your calculations, consider if all of the feedback you received was truly “negative” or was some of it simply new instructions or well-meaning and constructive feedback about your work?
Do you carry that file cabinet around with you?
Do you file away every negative thing your manager has ever done? Do you remember every time your manager sent back something you submitted asking you to make changes? Was your manager once snippy with you back in 2013 and you still haven’t forgiven her for it? You may have had a manager who holds grudges, but fighting fire with fire only creates more fire!
HOW WOULD YOU FEEL IF YOU WERE IN YOUR MANAGER’S POSITION?
Not to overstate this, but the job of a manager can sometimes be more difficult than yours. A manager usually has to do not only their “everyday job” but also manage you and your colleagues. Your manager experiences the same emotions that you do, such as fear (do you like giving people feedback?), disappointment (for example, when employees do something different than the manager asked them to do), and frustration (your manager, too, may wonder why people can’t “just let me do my job”). Lastly, remember that your manager may also have a manager, and likely experiences the same issues with her manager as you do with her!
DOES HUMBLE PIE GIVE YOU A STOMACH ACHE?
This could be one of the most uncomfortable things to deal with at work (and life, for that matter): admitting you could do something better. No matter how many years you’ve done your job and how good you are at doing it, someone else may be able to provide you with feedback (aka, suggestions) on how you may do something better or just differently.
Let’s assume you never make mistakes (or you never deliver work with mistakes). Then, let’s say your manager still asks you to “fix” something. It seems unfair, doesn’t it? All too often, we complete a task, push it forward and wash our hands of it as we move on to the next thing. Is it any wonder, then, that we get upset when the task comes back to us again for changes? Our natural reaction might be to get frustrated, but consider preparing yourself for the inevitable “red pen” by doing just that - prepare yourself.
Approach your work with a humbler attitude
Assume that, despite how hard you worked on something, that it can probably still use improvement. Bonus tip: be gracious when receiving the feedback. You might even try smiling. Also, if you did actually make a mistake, apologize!
AM I ANGRY AT MY MANAGER OR AM I UNHAPPY WITH MY JOB?
Just as a less-than-effective manager may take out his frustrations on innocent bystanders (aka, you), consider if you are doing the same with your manager. What if, for example, you are simply bored with the monotony of your job and what if your manager is just the messenger bringing you your boring job? It may feel like you are taking control when you blame your manager, but consider that blaming your manager might be giving up the very control that you seek.
Given that you are reading this article on the HumanMetrics site, it’s could be that you are currently searching for a new job, a new career, or you are simply looking to learn more about yourself in order to take control of your career and your life. Self-awareness of your own behavioral preferences, your strengths, and your opportunities for growth is the crucial first step in determining how you can take control of your own happiness in the workplace, in your career, and in life!
About David Freedman
David Freedman is a Success Coach at MySuccessPlatform.com. He has more than 15 years in human resources consulting. His wide-ranging experiences include resume and career coaching, emotional intelligence training, talent acquisition, and employee engagement. MySuccessPlatform.com offers their Rock*it Resume service as well as a Competitive Edge Boot Camp - customized and highly interactive workshop designed specifically for job seekers. Parent or recent college grad? Check it out.