What if You and Your Boss Don't Get Along Well?

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What if You and Your Boss Don't Get Along Well?
Jaap de Jonge, Editor, Netherlands
If you don't get along, dislike or even hate your superior, that is an awkward situation to be in. Sometimes this situation occurs when a new person is appointed as your supervisor.
According to Gallup research, typical grievances about a “bad boss” include micromanagement, bullying people, avoiding conflicts, not taking decisions, stealing credits for successes, shifting blame when things go wrong, keeping information to themselves, not listening properly, setting a poor example, and not developing staff.

INSEAD Prof. Kets de Vries, a reputable leadership expert, recommends the following tactics to resolve dysfunctional dynamics with your manager:
  1. PRACTICE EMPATHY. Be empathetic and put yourself in the shoes of your manager. Consider why (s)he is acting in that way. Is (s)he really inherently such a bad person? What pressures is (s)he under?
  2. CONSIDER YOUR OWN ROLE. Look at yourself in a critical manner. Could it be you are part of the problem? Also observe and ask colleagues for their view on the situation.
  3. OFFER A CHANCE TO CHANGE. If you are still convinced you’re not the problem, carefully prepare a meeting with your boss in a safe, private setting like a restaurant where you won’t be disdurbed and where it will be difficult for both people to leave prematurely. Announce beforehand that you have some serious personal concerns to discuss.
  4. ORGANIZE A MUTINY. Make a substantial business case and collect documents and proof of your superior’s bad behavior and impact on the organization. Ask colleagues to support you in written form. If you can't build a strong case, you are well advised to skip this option and consider the next option instead. Remember mutiny and whistle-blowing may damage your current and even future job prospects.
  5. PLAY FOR TIME OR MOVE ON. You can wait for some time to see if your bad boss leaves or things improve for another reason. If they don’t, simply leave. It's better for your stress levels. And after all, the world is so much bigger than the company you’re currently working in…
⇒ What are your experiences and recommendations regarding this awkward situation?

Source: Manfred F.R. Kets de Vries, “Do You Hate Your Boss? How to Deal with it.”, HBR Fall 2018, pp.30-33.

What if You and your Boss don't Get Along Well?
Musonda Ernest Kabwe, Zambia, Member
When you identify that you do not get along, you should choose to be happy and make sure to always do what is right and stay focused.
Find the positive part about your boss.
I know there is interpersonal fight within you, but every time you feel like that, please try to remember things that make you feel good.

Football Examples of these Tactics
Riphagen, Financial Consultant, Netherlands, Member
I think it is a good summary of the tactics. If you look at leadership situations in the public spotlight to recognize the 5 tactics, the football/soccer industry is an excellent example:
  • Zlatan Ibrahimovic had a terrible relationship with Guardiola. "When you buy me, you are buying a Ferrari. If you drive a Ferrari, you put premium petrol in the tank, you hit the motorway and you step on the gas. Guardiola filled up with diesel and took a spin in the countryside. He should have bought a Fiat."
    He chose tactic V to "Play for time and move on" and left after two years to Milan.
  • Organize a Mutiny: Look at the coaching staff at Fenerbahce, where the coach Cocu almost lost to a mutiny organized by his coaching staff.
  • Offer a chance to change: after the champions league game at Bayern Munchen, Tadic chose a safe, private setting with the coach of Ajax to discuss personal concerns.

You are Still Master of your Destiny
Allemeersch, Interim Manager, Belgium, Member
I agree that empathy should be your first exercise. It is normal for instance that a bean counter and an innovator is a recepy for not matching management styles.

Don’t Get Along with your Boss? Request a Meeting
Francis Joseph, United Kingdom, Member
If a situation like this presents itself I will always maintain some level of respect and keep communication open at all times. Effective communication is believed to be the key to interpersonal skills and explore the benefits of effective communication skills. Communication therefore, is a two way process in receiving and sending messages.
I will take the initiative and request a meeting/supervision with my Boss where we are able to listen to each other and professionally address the issue(s) why I don't get alone with my boss. The discussion has to be focused on the way forward and have this matter resolved imminently.
The aim is to be successful in producing a desired result.

Your Feelings of a Bad Boss Could Be a Myopic View and your Perception
C.L. Kappagomtula, Professor, Malaysia, Member
No boss is truly good or bad. It is an individual's perception. What you see as a bad boss may be a good if not excellent one from one according to your colleague.
In organizations, a change at the top often leads to 'resentment', if the change does not sync well with an individual. Resentment, if unattended, either mitigates and turns into acceptance or in some cases aggravates towards 'hatred'.
The more an individual interacts with the new boss, both in formal and in informal settings, the more acceptance of the new boss, and 'liking' towards his policies / decisions will take place. Avoid being 'myopic' in your outlook for the new incumbent and perceive the change from a wide perceptive to be a part of his team.

What if You and your Boss Don't Get Along Well?
Justus Nyangau, Business Consultant, Kenya, Member
It is normal that you can't be in agreement with everyone. It is good to take some time to understand the background your boss comes from, the educational level, experience, the current situation that s/he is in and his type of leadership.
You could create a safe environment for interacting with your boss and get an opportunity to talk about the differences by giving suggestions supported with reasons why you think something should be done in another way, instead of doing it as the boss wants.
Sometimes it is important to have a written document to support your suggestions for example in a meeting.

You and your Bad Boss
Ragab Gouda, Manager, Egypt, Member
First you should take some time to understand your new boss (his educational level, his experience, his type of leadership, etc.), but if the situation continues and has a negative impact on you and you did not find solutions, I prefer to leave the department or search for another organization.
In the Middle East, a bad manager can destroy an outstanding employee, especially if there is no fair system in the organization.

If You and your Boss don't Get Along
Moustapha Kaba, Teacher, Guinea, Member
Take distance from your boss to avoid conflicts or discussions if he/she is not happy to work with you.
Don't stress yourself, you are advised to instead focus on a new activity, or assist your colleagues to reach their mission. Never react to your boss negatively and don't show your negative position towards her/him openly.

If You don't Get Along Well with your Boss, what to Do?
Magassouba, Student (University), Guinea, Member
If you don't get along well with your boss, what you should do is to find out the cause, the source of that particular problem. Assuming before that problem occurred you and your boss were getting along fine and you were working together, there is something which happened and doesn't work well.
You as a skilled man, talented man have understood the fourteen principles of Henry Fayol, so this is not a problem for you.
You can figure out the solution of any problems through communication. If you do exactly what needs to be done, when things are done in a scientific manner, your boss has to be happy because he knows "cost effectiveness ".

Some People may never Change their Primary Characteristics
tebere moro james, Manager, Member
From my own experiences, I once had an immediate line manager whom they warned me of his character, prior to joining the organization. I then came face to face with all the hard behavior:
1. I stayed focused right from the first day.
2. I had to be a very good listener,
3. I had to have a daily meeting with him, and even though we clashed already in the first week of my new job, I cooled myself and kowtowed to the lowest point.
4. I made sure all the task I did were shared with him on scheduled time.
But when my probation period of two months had hardly passed he advised me: "As a brotherly advice, look for a new job, I cannot work with you…"
I then asked about all the reports I has shared with him: how many had he given me feedback with any recommendation. He then began shouting at me with the highest voice. I had no option than to hold his hands tight and warned him that he needed to be very careful to know how a good manager should behave.
His line manager had to warn him seriously.

Some People may never Change their Primary Characteristics
Justus Nyangau, Business Consultant, Kenya, Member
@tebere moro james: We should understand that we all have different competences. Your competence could be a challenge to him/her. Other people do not like prior plans of doing things and this is wrong. Maybe your planning and engaging him in your work was a threat to him. This could lead to friction between you and your boss. Since we are all human beings, we should allow some space for learning. It is not necessarily that the boss knows everything, that is the reason we need to talk together and accommodate one another. There is need for coming up with work plans and follow them. Work plans are short term goals towards achieving the main goal.

Manage your Manager
Maurice Hogarth, Consultant, United Kingdom, Premium Member
As listed, there are many reasons (perceptions) for conflict with a line-manager with perceptions from “boss” (bossy-bully) “superior”. It's better to avoid “superior” and use “line-senior/line-manager”.
Take a sheet of paper, line down the centre:
  • FIRST on the left hand side list all that you LIKE (acceptable, useful, helpful &c) about their management behaviour.
  • SECONDLY, on the rhs list your CONCERNS, in terms of “My concern is how to get my line senior to do more… / …less…” e.g. how to assist them to cope with their situation?
Then devise solutions and possibly (ideally) discuss this with him/her.
Particularly use this process to thoroughly assess proposals before presenting them… so identify all the concerns (objections) they might express, resolve them and present a total solution that leaves no basis for refusing. Don’t pass monkeys (thoughts, ideas) for them to action, provide solutions that are planned and ready to action.

Sometimes it Really Does not Work
Peter van Herpen, Manager, Member
And be honest with yourself: Some personalities just do not fit together. And then it indeed is time to move on. Took me 6 months to figure out, but then I acted and it was the best for everybody, the company, myself, my family and, yes, also for my previous boss.

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