Start Right, Stay Right

A skills programme by Tremendis Learning

Remember that the relationship is mutual

Related:   Compare the way you both perceive your role   Coping with a Difficult Boss    > Remember that the relationship is mutual <  
Remember that the relationship is mutual

Remember that the relationship is mutual

In order to be effective, managers need a co-operative and productive team. But in order to be part of such a team, each member needs their manager to provide the resources and support they need to do their job properly. An unsupportive boss can be just as nightmarish as a vindictive one.

When managers neglect to give their employees the information and feedback they need, employees are forced to second-guess their boss's requirements. This inevitably leads to misunderstandings on both sides. The knock-on effects of this are an atmosphere of distrust and ill will, and mutual recriminations-not to mention the negative impact on the organisation's productivity levels.

  • Ask for the information and resources you require, or find other ways to get these, as this will put you in control of the situation and protect you from the need to improvise.

Nightmare situations can arise when employees' needs aren't met. Some people become angry and resentful of the manager's authority; some find ways of challenging decisions in order to assert their own power; and others develop agendas of their own that are neither helpful nor productive. Relationships where the balance of power is weighted very heavily in one person's favour are a recipe for revolution! It is rare in business to find relationships where there is absolutely no reciprocal power. Nevertheless, it's important to remember that if you're no longer willing to spend time managing your difficult boss, you still have the ultimate power: you can just walk away.

Common mistakes

  • You take your boss's behaviour personally
    It is very tempting to take the behaviour of a difficult boss personally. However, it is very unlikely that you are the problem. It may be something you do, it may be the values you hold, or it may be that you remind your boss of someone he or she doesn't get on with. The only person who loses out if you take it personally is you.
  • You don't remain detached
    Many difficult relationships deteriorate to the point where they are fraught with contempt and confrontation. This is never helpful in a work setting and only makes matters uncomfortable for everyone. If you find yourself being drawn into an angry exchange, try to remain emotionally detached and listen actively to what is being said to (or shouted at) you. It may provide you with clues about why the situation has developed and allow you to get straight to the point of concern. Ask for a private review afterwards to explore the incident. You may find that this brings to the surface issues that are relatively easy to deal with and that will prevent further outbursts from occurring.
  • You never confront the issue
    Because facing up to difficult people is not an easy thing to do, many people avoid biting the bullet. However, this will only prolong a miserable situation. Acquiescence enables bullying to thrive and allows the aggressors to hold power. Break the cycle by taking responsibility for your share of the problem and examining what it is you're doing to provoke conflict between you and your boss. Doing nothing is not a viable option.

Steps to Success

  • Don't neglect the problem-for the sake of your health, if nothing else.
  • Try to see both sides of the issue.
  • Ask for impartial help from colleagues if you feel too emotionally involved.
  • Identify and resolve areas of ambiguity in order to reduce the possibility of misunderstandings and dissatisfaction.
  • Don't take it personally . . . but remember that you might need to change too.
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