My New Boss Hates Me!

Anita,

After a company merger, I got a new manager directly over me who is the polar opposite of her predecessor, who I just loved working for. It’s been a few months, and I have a funny feeling that my new boss hates me. I don’t know what to do about it. Help!

Boss_Hate_iStock_000023671292Dear, From Elated to Hated,

Now, now; let’s not jump to conclusions. You may not have adjusted to your new boss’s completely different personality yet. Have you noticed any of these red flags?

  • You’re being micromanaged when others are not.
  • Your boss avoids you and doesn’t return your phone calls and emails.
  • She doesn’t make eye contact, has crossed arm “closed” body language, and rarely smiles in your presence.
  • She doesn’t ask for your input and dismisses your contributions in meetings.
  • She leaves you out of key meetings completely or hands plum assignments to others.
  • She doesn’t give you feedback – positive or negative.
  • Or, she criticizes you – constantly or in front of coworkers.

If you are experiencing several of these behaviors, you may be right: Your boss may dislike you. But it’s still early in the transition period. You may be able to win her over.

  1. Clarify expectations. Set up a one-on-one to provide your new boss an overview of your current role and ask if she envisions any changes. Bring your job description to see if she foresees any duties that will be added or taken away. Ask your new manager how you can be successful under her leadership.
  2. Boss_Like_iStock_000023669427Help your new boss succeed. This isn’t a one-way street. If your new supervisor was hired from the outside, you can help explain procedures and help her get acclimated. Without calling her out or embarrassing her in front of colleagues (“That’s not the way we do that!”), share your institutional knowledge and you may win an ally.
  3. Identify her personality style. If you’ve taken the DiSC profile or Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) in your workplace, you’ll probably be able categorize your new supervisor’s traits. Don’t judge her by your former boss’s best attributes; discover your new manager’s strengths. Read up on workplace profiles to learn how you can increase your effectiveness in your 9-to-5 relationship.
  4. Actively participate in meetings. Even if your ideas seem to be met with the enthusiasm of a wet blanket, continue to chime in with optimism. If you’re taking a “wait and see” approach, your lack of engagement in meetings may cast you as a non-contributor and possibly put you on the top of the chopping block list. Give your new boss a chance to get to know you and value your contributions.
  5. Be open to new ideas. If you want your boss to respect your opinions, avoid being negative about new perspectives or procedures your newly-appointed supervisor brings to the table.

Even though you and your new manager did not have the luxury of choosing each other in an interview and hiring process, you can learn to coexist and employ your differing approaches to your company’s advantage.

Readers: Have you ever had a rough start with a new manager? How did you improve the work relationship?

 

RELATED POSTS:
Getting the Cold Shoulder
6 Survival Strategies for a Job You Hate
Stay or Quit
Becoming the Boss: Advice for New Managers

From Self-Employed to Employed

Dear, Anita,

I’ve been self employed since 1970 but have also held full time positions with other companies at various times, too. From about 1990 to 2007 I experienced so much business that I worked (at home) an average of 12 hours/day, seven days a week. It all came to an abrupt halt when the recession hit. I’m now looking for jobs doing just about anything, but no luck.

I feel my age is working against me but also my many years of experience. I’ve had interviews where the interviewer probably feared I was more qualified than himself. With a resume that shows so many years of self employment I think most employers think I’ll either leave when business picks up or I’ll steal their ideas or their clients. Any advice for switching from self employment to working for other companies?

Dear, Fearful Free Agent,

Entrepreneur PaycheckWith the economic downturn, many entrepreneurs decided (or had the decision made for them) to return to a conventional J.O.B.  Let’s review some of the upsides to “working for the man.” People in your situation can relinquish the financial worries (though the new position may bring apprehensions of its own). There will be a sense of stability that may have been lacking in your recent economic landscape.  Also, being part of a team can be refreshing. Working solo, you sometimes miss people to bounce ideas off of or just to share what you did over the weekend.

That’s not to say the transition will be easy. You may give up the flexibility of setting your own hours for a 9-to-5 schedule. But that means no more burning the midnight oil! And the daily grind may come with benefits like affordable health insurance.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. First, you need to leap over the hurdles to land that position. An employer may have a bias based on age, but if you craft your résumé wisely, you should be able to secure an interview. For tips, check out my post Getting Hired (or not) Based on Age.

While you could be overqualified in your previous area of expertise, you may need to upgrade or learn new skills to broaden your marketability.  Working by yourself, you may not have needed Outlook or other standard office fare. Check out local colleges and universities or Google “job training” to find resources in your local area to shore up your skill set.

When you were self-employed, you were actually both the boss and the employee, so you know a thing or two about wearing many hats and getting the job done. But be sure to nibble on some humble pie. While you don’t want to be modest about your experience and accomplishments during a job interview, your potential employer will be looking for clues that you won’t go rogue. Practice a response to the inevitable question, “Why do you want to work for someone else again?”  Check out my past article, How to Overcome “Overqualified,” for some interview role-playing assistance.

Keep your spirits up during your job search. To help, here’s a humorous music video, “Self Employment Made Harder By Difficult Boss”:

Readers: Have you successfully gone from entrepreneur to company man (or woman)? What was the most difficult part of the transition? What do you like most about having a traditional job?

Have a question you would like to ask? Visit http://anitaclew.com/ask-anita/.

Subscribe to receive these career tips and advice by email once a week.

Rapid Resignation

Hi, Anita. I’ve been reading your blog for a long time, and many of your tips helped me to land a job about a month ago. I was so thankful to finally get a job, but as it turns out, I’m not really happy there. I’m not fulfilled by what I’m doing and want to get out before I get entrenched. I also want my boss to be able to go back to the other candidates she interviewed before they accept other jobs. Is it okay to email my boss this weekend and let her know I won’t be coming back on Monday?

quit

Dear, Rapid Resigner,

No! It’s never okay to email your boss your resignation, no matter how good your intentions. Not only is it disrespectful and unprofessional, but you are putting your boss in the really bad position of finding herself an employee down without having any notice to create a transition plan. Finally, it’s hard on the team you leave behind because they will have to pick up the slack you just dumped in their laps.

If you are unhappy in your current position, you have every right to make a change. Just be careful in the way you go about it. First of all, if you feel you can talk to your boss about what is making you unhappy, do so. Make sure you’re clear about specific grievances, and give your boss a chance to understand what you would like to see happen going forward. She doesn’t have to change anything, in which case you are justified in your resignation, and she won’t be surprised. However, you may be surprised yourself! If she respects the work you’ve been doing and wants to keep you on the team, she may be able to adjust some things so you feel better about them.

If you don’t feel like you can talk to your boss about your issues, or if you simply don’t want to go through the hassle of trying to work through them with her, at least give her the courtesy of 1-2 weeks’ notice before your last day. That way, she can transition you out and find a replacement for the position. By not giving proper notice, you are truly burning a bridge that may come back to haunt you later on. After all, it’s a small world; you never know what future employer may know your boss and ask her about you. Read more about professional resignations in my post “Building, Not Burning, Bridges.”

I know things may seem bad at your new job, and you may not think you can take it a second longer. In that case, if you really feel you need to give less than two weeks’ notice, you still need to approach your boss in person and let her know when your last day will be. Most bosses will understand that it’s not a good fit (as a matter of fact, dollars to doughnuts, they had realized the same thing already) and wish you well – so long as you don’t let YOUR door hit THEM in the behind on your way out.

Thanks for being such a loyal reader, Rapid. I hope you’ll take this piece of advice to heart as well.

Anita

Readers – have you ever known of anyone who simply emailed in their resignation and gave their boss no notice? What was the fallout – on both the manager’s and former employee’s sides?

Working With the Office Monster

Dear Anita,

I have been at my job for a few years and have finally become fed up with working and dealing with my horrible co-worker every day. To our supervisors and higher ups she is overly nice, but she treats the rest of us like dirt.  I cannot stand her antics and the bullying she is doing around the office. Can you please offer some advice and shed some light on this awful situation?

This reminds me of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde!

It looks like you have a very difficult and unbearable co-worker on your hands. As much as we wish the office to be a safe and drama-free workplace, unfortunately a few poisonous apples can manage to slip through the cracks. These are Witch of Workpeople that you do everything in your power to avoid and they still manage to weasel their way into your day. They are incredibly difficult to please, nasty, unethical, and are on a mission to make others’ work lives miserable. They are also incredibly skilled at manipulating others around them. Luckily, your pal Anita has a few tricks up her sleeves to help handle these intolerable creatures.

Do your best to remain as far away from them as possible. This does not mean you need to switch jobs, hide under a rock, or flee to the closest neighboring country. If there is an open desk away from the office monster, talk to your boss or human resources manager about making the switch. If you feel comfortable, you may want to mention the reasons why you are requesting the move — something along the lines of “I feel that my current location is not a neutral or conducive environment for me to work as efficiently as possible.” If a new location is not an option, invest in a pair of noise-cancelling earphones. It is one way to drown out the chatter and unpleasantness.

It is important to remember that most bullies will end up digging a hole so deep, they will find themselves out of a job. Many act the way they do to get an edge over potential competition by emotionally and professionally damaging their co-workers. Do your best to avoid engaging with this individual. If you have to interact with him or her on a daily basis, be prepared to handle any disagreements or friction ahead of time. When we are caught off guard, emotions kick in and we are less likely to think rationally. If you have a strategy, you can handle the situation like the professional you are!

As any normal person would, you may begin to feel that retaliation is in order. After putting up with and being put downScary! by this behavior, it only seems fair to fight back. It is very important that you hold back with all your might and do the opposite; kill them with kindness. It is the best way to handle your emotions. They will have little-to-no reason to continue to engage you in their antics or become frustrated with not being able to get a rise out of you.

Hopefully by now, this individual has begun to back off of you, and you are getting back to what is important: work. But don’t, for a single second, think that the situation has left the premises. Most unpleasant people are habitual bullies. They will wait until they see you at a weak point and will attack like a wild animal. Ever hear of the saying, “keep your friends close and your enemies closer”? The manipulator will wait until they have an opportunity to exploit you or bring you down again. In short, keep up your guard and continue to watch your back.

If further action is needed, I suggest you call a meeting with your boss and human resources manager. It will be more meaningful to all parties involved that you are being proactive, and it will be a big wake-up call to your horrible co-worker that you are no longer going to tolerate this bad behavior. Again, leave your emotions at the door. Be strong and stand up for your right to a psychologically safe and sound workplace. State your case, but try not to point fingers. Your boss or human resources manager may request further explanation or encourage you to briefly go in to detail about how you are feelings. It will be helpful to check out my post on Tackling Employee Tensions to be prepared for a conflict resolution meeting.

Have you ever encounter an office monster? If so, what did you do to diffuse the situation?

Have a question? Ask Anita Clew! Visit http://www.anitaclew.com/ask_anita to submit your tough one!

Have a Spook-tacular Halloween!

-Anita Boo

Disclaimer

Anita Clew's blog posts are intended for general guidance and should never be taken as legal advice. In all instances where harassment, inequity, or unfair treatment is believed to be present, please consult your HR Department or legal representation.
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