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?

 

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Responding to Reference Check Requests

Hi, Anita:

I received a call from a company requesting a reference for a former employee on my team. What am I allowed to say and what information should I keep confidential?  I want to be as professional as possible while being honest. Thanks.

Dear, Reference Check Responder:

More and more companies are requiring that reference checks be performed before bringing on new employees. It is a great way to get the inside scoop on an employee that you are interested in hiring and serves as a great second opinion that you are making the right or the wrong choice.

Many employees/job seekers are under the impression that it is illegal for their previous employer to disclose anything besides the dates of employment, salary information, and job title. Though it may be your current company’s policy to disclose nothing more than dates, pay, and title, there are no current federal laws in place that prevent additional employment information from being disclosed to potential employers. Each state’s laws are different so it is best to check the Department of Labor for your state to make sure you are within the protections of the law.

reference

Keep in mind that there are laws against defamation of character (slander and libel) or invasion of privacy that you must be very careful not to break. It is important that you give an accurate description of the employee in question but an exaggerated and personally charged negative reference should be avoided. Not only can it open the door for potential lawsuits, but it may also damage your credibility and professional image to peers outside of your company.

Some simple guidelines that will help you:

  • If you feel a question is too invasive, you can politely say that you are not at liberty to discuss this topic due to your current company’s policy.
  • Give responses only to questions that you feel comfortable answering.
  • If the employee left the company on bad terms, I would refer the call to your Human Resources department. These colleagues are trained to handle these situations properly.
  • Avoid giving detailed information of an employee’s negative performance.
  • Only comment on your direct observations of the current or former employee’s performance. Hearsay should not be relied on or involved in your description.
  • Medical conditions and other personal health information should never be discussed.
  • For your protection, keep a log of all reference inquiries that show the date, name of employee, name of reference requestor, and name of prospective employer company. This document should be placed in the former employee’s folder and be made available upon request.

In any situation, personal or professional, always use your best judgment. Never feel like you have to divulge more information than you feel comfortable giving. Each company is different and may have a standard procedure for handling reference requests. Always consult your supervisor or Human Resources department for additional information.

Good luck!

Anita

Readers:  What are the most difficult questions that you have been asked by a reference requestor? Have you ever had a former employee ask for a reference that you felt you should not offer?

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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