When Your Boss is the Problem

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When Your Boss is the Problem

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You’ve probably already heard a version of this, but there is a popular phrase that has been around for years. It goes something like this, “People don’t quit companies, they quit their boss.”


I’m not sure who deserves credit for those words but many times this is an absolute truth. What you’re about to read isn’t going to take a shot at your boss or support destructive behaviors to teach your boss a lesson. There is already too much of that in our workplaces and society.

What is most important is how you will navigate challenges related to working with your boss, and do it with poise, confidence, and (hopefully) with mutual respect.

The best boss on the planet isn’t necessarily the quietest, the loudest, the sharpest, the funniest, or the most serious. A relationship that you share with your boss really depends on both of you.

If you’re reading this you probably have self-identified that there are some challenges in your relationship with your boss, so let’s look at a few common possibilities to improve your interactions.

  1. Mutual Respect. Chances are probably good that you feel you could benefit from receiving a little more respect from your boss. Giving first in order to receive is always a popular resolution gesture. While it may seem challenging at times, try to consider ways that you can show more respect to your boss, perhaps it will then come back to you. In fact, the root of your disconnect might originate with either or both of you feeling a lack of respect.
  2. Trust. Both trust and respect are critical. Do you trust your boss, or vice versa? Be forthcoming with trust. Does your boss trust you with assignments or do you feel micromanaged? Trust must often be built, if you feel somewhat micromanaged consider how you can increase your bosses comfort level (tips) with your work. If trust concerns are rooted in confidentiality then consider what has weakened this, often it is connected to behaviors or misunderstandings like gossip or body language.
  3. Listening. You might feel like your boss doesn’t listen to your contributions. You most likely won’t change the behavior of your boss so you’ll need to think about how you can adapt. Have you considered your approach? Do you email, do you make your approach in the hallway, or schedule a meeting? Change or adapt your approach to get more focus and undivided attention during your discussions.
  4. Rejection. Have you felt rejected? Most feelings of rejection associated with your job are likely more of a refusal rather than a rejection. Your boss might refuse your idea or refuse to accept some of your work but that doesn’t mean it is rejected. Any time you feel rejected consider viewing it as a right of refusal, do some re-work and try again.
  5. Mind-set. You might have a past with your boss that has led your relationship to this place. Keep in mind that your approach to all of your interactions will have a lot to do with your confidence. The more confident you are the more compelling your message will be. Consider how you might flex your style to adapt because your boss isn’t likely to change to fit your needs.

Relationships are often hard work. In other cases they might feel natural and free flowing, so much so that you can become invisible with your boss or co-workers. If you feel some discomfort in your relationship with your boss chances are good that feeling is mutual.

So the positive part of this situation is that you are likely on the radar scope, you are noticed.

Make the best use of your visibility.


Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and corporate trainer that specializes in helping businesses and individuals accelerate their leadership, their team, and their success. He is a four-time author and some of his work includes, Forgotten Respect, Navigating A Multigenerational Workforce and Pivot and Accelerate, The Next Move Is Yours! Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.

Dennis Gilbert on Google+

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