I’ve been working for my current boss for more than five years now. He’s our department head, while I work as one of his three managers. Two months ago, I noticed a change in how he supervises my work. He has become very strict with my attendance and rejects my work even over minor issues. At times, he drags his feet when my work is clearly superior to that of other managers. This week, he gave me an almost impossible assignment at which others had failed before. I’m worried. — Is it me or is it the boss?
Our mouth is the restaurateur’s friend, the dentist’s fortune, the orator’s pride, and the fool’s trap. If you have a great boss, who for some reason has changed his management style for the worse, then watch out. Find out how he verbalizes things with you and reflect on his body language.
Just the same, don’t overreact and come to a quick judgment since certain circumstances are not always what they seem. For one, maybe you’re not being singled out as your colleagues may have suffered the same treatment. After all, people change styles, and even if you appear to be in a bad situation now, you may be faring well with top management, which could be your salvation, if worse comes to worst.
But one thing is sure. You can’t control the attitude, behavior, and style of your boss towards you. It’s unfortunate at this point. Therefore, I suggest that you look at yourself in the mirror and reflect by answering the following questions:
One, are you being perceived as a threat, traitor, or both? You may be doing something that is giving rise to that perception. This could happen if you are too close with or often initiate conversations with top management on practically anything.
Two, are you being micro-managed unlike before? It could mean that your boss is trying to discover some of your faults in preparation for a disciplinary action, if not poor performance rating.
Three, how would you appraise your work performance? If you think you’re doing a good job, it would be difficult for your boss to bully you. If you’re faring poorly, then you must prepare for the worst.
Four, are you being left out in department meetings? Or, does your boss schedule an emergency meeting when you’re not around? Does he rely much on the inputs of your second-in-command or other department managers?
Five, does he gives you objective feedback about your work? Does he keep on dragging his feet on your recommendations, no matter how good they are? Does he openly criticize your work within hearing distance of others?
Six, do you have reason to believe your boss is ignoring you? Despite making firm appointments, has he cancelled any scheduled meetings for no clear reason?
Seven, have you done something to merit his change in attitude towards you? Try to recall what happened in the past. Maybe you’ve unconsciously disrespected your boss in front of other people? Or, maybe you’ve circumvented his instructions and word of it reached him.
Last, do you have the confidence to bring up your concerns with him? It’s difficult to speculate about your boss’s motives. Therefore, there’s no other way but to talk to him and discover the basic issue. It’s not easy. But you don’t have much choice.
Whenever possible, do everything to correct the situation. You can’t go on working with your boss given the circumstances. If necessary, consult friendly higher-ups or the CEO about what to do. If they value harmonious work relationship, they can act properly and give you the best advice possible.
If not, they will initiate a move to reconcile you with your department head. If not, and top management gives you a hint about your bleak future in the organization, then the next best thing for you is to prepare for your eventual resignation. If that is imminent, negotiate for lead time of at least two months so that you can get a replacement job somewhere.
Whatever your approach, you must always remember that dealing with a boss’s personality and style are often crucial to having a sustainable and mutually-acceptable work relationship.
ELBONOMICS: If you want an amazing relationship with people, be the first one to establish an amazing relationship with them.