If you’ve worked at any company at all, you might have a sense of when the boss doesn’t like someone. The lack of trust, the childlike treatment, the exclusion in important decisions — the list can go on and on. No one signs up to work for a bad boss who doesn’t like them, but it does happen. The boss-employee relationship is so crucial in regard to whether employees stay or leave that it’s often said employees leave managers and not companies, so it’s important to have a good one.
So, if you have a hunch that your boss might not like you, here’s how to succeed at work anyway.
When Your Boss Doesn't Trust You to Handle Anything Yourself
Whether it’s a gut feeling or not, it can be pretty obvious when your boss doesn’t trust you. This often rears its ugly head in the form of micromanaging. Dealing with a manager who feels the need to constantly monitor your work is not only soul-crushing but it’s also among the most common reasons people choose to leave their jobs. In fact, a recent survey conducted by the American outsourcing and talent company Yoh found that 35 percent of employees said that having a micromanaging boss can sway their decision to stay or leave a company.
Perhaps your boss keeps tabs on you by constantly asking, “Hey, did you get that assignment done yet?” or maybe your boss gives you an assignment only to pass it off to someone else later. Red flags should also go off when you notice your boss puts all their instructions to you in writing and asks you to respond in writing as well.
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Solution: Be a Step Ahead of Your Boss
Although working under a boss who doesn’t trust you won’t inspire you or get your creative juices flowing, there is a way to navigate through it. First, see if the problem is within your control. For example, have you repeatedly missed deadlines for assignments? Do you often volunteer to take on more than you can handle only to drop the ball? Identify and manage those issues.
Try to anticipate what your boss needs from you before they have to ask you. Doing so shows initiative, investment and accountability on your part. Ultimately, a lack of trust and micromanaging usually comes from a sense of fear. So, if you address these fears before your boss has to think about them, you can build trust.
When Your Boss Doesn't Give You Recognition
Not getting praised for your work is no fun. If this repeatedly happens, it can be enough for employees to jump ship. According to a 2018 report cited by Inc., 22 percent of employees who didn’t feel recognized when they did great work sought other employment in the last three months compared with 12.4 percent of employees who did feel recognized.
Solution: Look for Ways to Make Your Work Stand Out
Although not getting recognized for your hard work is a hard pill to swallow, remember that it might not be intentional — or even personal. Consider that your boss might be swamped with other duties or deeply invested in a project of their own. But if the lack of praise is bothersome — as it would be for most people — find a way to make your work stand more visibly to your boss. Take on projects with greater impact on your team where it’s harder for your work to slip through the cracks and off your boss’ radar. Also, find out what your boss does consider recognition-worthy. Talk to them to learn how they define success in your role.
When Your Boss Has Favorites
No matter if it’s your real family or your work family, having favorites is never a good idea in a group setting. The idea of favorites — whether real or perceived — creates a sense of inequality and can lead to a dip in morale among other employees.
Solution: Switch Your Focus to Work
You might not be one of your boss’ favorites but this shouldn’t impact your work. Although it’s widely frustrating to be in an environment where only a few golden employees hold the coveted attention of the boss, your work ultimately makes you valuable and is what can change people’s perceptions about you. So, focusing on excelling at your work is the best way to overcome your boss’ favoritism, according to Billie Sucher, a career-transition management expert.
“You cannot control the actions of your boss; you can only control your reaction to him or her,” Sucher told job search and career advice website Monster. “Focus on what is before you — your tasks, accountabilities and serving your customers and employer to the best of your ability.”
When You're Left Out of Meetings
Getting left out of meetings is one of the clearest signs that the relationship with your boss might need some smoothing over. If you can’t pinpoint a reason why you’re not involved in a team meeting then it’s time to have a chat with your boss.
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Solution: Talk to Your Boss
If you’re concerned about being left out, discuss it with your boss directly. Set up a meeting or grab your boss for coffee to voice your concerns.
“Approach your manager directly to address the problem,” Daily Worth’s Alison Green wrote in an article that appeared on The Muse. “But don’t be accusatory; you’ll get better results if you work from the assumption that it was an oversight to be corrected, rather than an intentional exclusion.”
When Your Boss Ignores Your Ideas
So, you’re in a team meeting and you just said an idea that you’re sure is going to propel your team forward. However, your boss doesn’t even acknowledge the idea. Maybe there is a legitimate reason for this and maybe there’s not. If this happens on a regular basis it’s easy to lose motivation and engagement in your work, especially if you’re a productive and profitable employee.
Solution: Build Your Credibility
If your boss doesn’t listen to you, find a person who will listen to you and will vouch for you. It doesn’t mean you need to be shady and take your ideas to someone higher on the totem pole. But rather, find people within your company whom your boss respects, present your idea to them and get their validation. Consider people on your team or people with the same job title as you. The important thing is for these people to have your boss’ ear and your trust to speak on your behalf when it counts.
When Your Boss Undermines You in Meetings
You sit down in the meeting and voice your opinion only for your boss to undercut you. This is not the best feeling in the world and not something that will help you grow in a work environment. But how do you deal with this bad boss?
Solution: Don't Take It Personally
It’s no doubt embarrassing and a blow to your ego when your boss doesn’t respect you in meetings, but there is a way to weather that emotional storm brewing in your heart. First, give your boss the benefit of the doubt. They might not know that their tone is a little too sharp or they completely disregarded your opinion. If you let a perceived bad intention get to you, this can affect your work and create tension between you and your boss.
When You're Denied a Promotion or Raise More Than Once
Frankly, it sucks to have your request for a promotion or a raise denied. You put in the hard work and you expect to be compensated appropriately but your boss won’t budge. So, what do you do? Is it just because the boss doesn’t like you?
Solution: Talk to Human Resources
The human resources team is supposed to have your back. If you feel as if you deserve a raise or you don’t feel you’re fairly compensated then reach out to HR. Find out if there is a legitimate reason for your stunted salary and if there is a way to change that. In general, conversations about money can be some of the most uncomfortable ones to have with your employer — but they are necessary and HR can facilitate and help you get results.
When Your Boss Isn't Concerned About Your Well-Being
Part of the reason people leave their jobs is not just because of the work but also because of the people. According to a 2015 Gallup poll, 50 percent of Americans admitted to quitting their jobs because of their managers at some point during their careers, Forbes reported.
Solution: Build a Personal Relationship
Work on building a personal relationship with your boss. Maybe set up some time to grab lunch or get coffee. Getting to know your boss on a personal level gives you and them a chance to connect as people, which can hopefully improve your working relationship. Although your skill set is important to any job, your personality also affects your work environment. If you get along with your boss personally, that can help you work more efficiently.
Read more about the common ways smart people lose their jobs.
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