Your Manager Is Not Exactly Perfect. What Can You Do About It?
A few years back, I reported to a manager with whom I had a difficult time establishing a good relationship. Our personalities did not easily connect. His approach, style, and overall personality were different from what I had encountered in the past.
Most likely you too had (or have) a difficult manager. Micromanager, disrespectful, selfish, condescending, uncaring, incompetent, and whichever other descriptors you may want to insert here to describe a lousy manager, most likely you and I have experienced one, many or all. Perhaps like me, you quickly assessed their shortcomings and established limitations. Perhaps like me, you did not realize the role you play in helping your manager improve. So perhaps like me, you dismissed any possibility you may have something to do with the challenges you are facing.
The perfect manager does not exist
Those managers we read and fantasize about do not exist. Our expectations of a manager today are almost like a mythical being; a superman/superwoman who demonstrates all the perfect characteristics we want, expect and need. However, the expectations we have of our managers at times do not coincide with the realities we face. Moreover, when that reality does not align, we rather not touch it, avoiding as much as possible learning how to resolve it. Some start looking for another job. Some opt to complain, some grow frustrated and make the situation even worst. However, some choose to deal with what is in front of them and try to make it better. If you are one of these, consider the following as you go about improving your relationship with your manager.
Relationships are a two-part equation
In most instances, you are equally responsible for the successes or failures of the relationships you establish, including the one with your manager. Learning to manage difficult relationships is one of the most important characteristics of a good manager and leader. Therefore, you must be willing to take responsibility to improve the relationship.
Look at yourself and your shortcomings
Just like your manager, you are not perfect. If you expect h/her to be aware of h/her blind spots, you must be aware of yours. Self-awareness and self-analysis are critical in any relationship. Stop focusing on h/her as the problem and shift to you as the solution. Take time to review your behaviors, actions, and deliverables when you encounter difficult relationships. Assess how you may be contributing to those obstacles; are your actions in alignment with what you expect h/her to demonstrate? Are you delivering on the tasks and responsibilities he expects?
Ask for help from the right individuals
Have you thought that perhaps you may not have enough maturity or experience to help improve the situation? If this is the case, ask for help from individuals with more experience than you. Don’t waste time talking to others simply to validate your feelings. Your friends and family members may not be candid enough with you. When you consult others, seek their ideas and solutions. Confirming your observations from a perspective of objectivity so that the situation can improve, should be done. However, doing it to remove yourself from any responsibility is simply immature.
Personal attack vs. performance issues
This is likely the most difficult one; to differentiate personal issues from performance related ones. When I was dealing with my difficult manager, I recognized he was not being difficult for the sake of being one. He also did not have anything against me as a person, but rather to certain behaviors I was demonstrating that were frustrating him.
Many times we attribute the difficulties encountered to the person not liking us. The question is why? If it is due to a personality conflict, identifying why and what are the related behaviors he does not like is a step in the right direction. In most instances, it is the behavior, not the person. If it is performance related, then do not turn it to a personality issue.
Leadership starts with you
We attribute many values to effective leaders and managers. However, when it comes to us, we fail to designate those same attributes as their direct reports. We expect them to act on those values, yet we do not. We expect them to do so consistently, but not us. How is that helping you? How is that improving the relationship? Moreover, how is that helping your career? If you are looking to become a better manager, a leader, you must begin by taking ownership of your actions and the relationships you create.
You can blame your manager all you want, but what will you do the next time you encounter a new manager who does not meet your expectations? Perhaps you may not be meeting h/her's. If that is the case, would you like h/her to apply the above suggestions? I am sure you do.
Your journey, your career. Own it.
I work in human resources at Crescent Hotels & Resorts. For more on my content follow me on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or LinkedIn. I will respond to your comments and feedback.
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