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What to Do If You Don’t Get Along with Your Boss

Jayne Mattson

Jayne Mattson

When someone is unhappy in their work, many times it isn’t because of the job or the company, but because of their boss. If you love what you do, but don’t get along with your boss, here are some suggestions to improve the relationship before you make the decision to leave.

Walk in their Shoes for a Moment: Give them the benefit of the doubt that there could be something going on in their lives that is affecting your relationship. Evaluate some of the recent situations that have occurred where you and your boss disagreed or your boss gave you feedback that you felt was unwarranted. Was there any truth to what was said, has your boss been under pressure from upper management or is there something going on in their personal life?

Is it a Style Issue? You might need to adapt to your boss’s style of management and/or make adjustments to the way you communicate with him/her. You can always ask how do you prefer we communicate about…?

(Tactfully) Honesty is the Best Policy: Arrange a time to meet with your boss when you know there would not be any interruptions. Set the stage for an open and honest conversation mentioning that you’ve noticed lately that the two of you are not on the same page and you want to know how you can work more effectively with each other.

Use Internal Resources, Carefully: You can go to HR and ask for their advice, but be clear that you want to keep your conversation extremely confidential at this point and you just need a sounding board.  Also, if you have tried your best to work things out with your boss and you want to stay with the company and your job, you can approach your boss’s boss about the situation. However, be aware that this can be dangerous territory where your boss may feel you went above him/her. Point out the positive aspects of your boss as well as your concerns about having challenges as well. Be prepared if you are asked “what do you want me to do?”

Ponder Your Future: Lastly, if you are not willing to try to work it out, maybe it is time to leave. When you leave a company because of your boss, it is very important that you know what management style you prefer. Make sure in your next role, you ask enough questions to know you will be able to do your best work working for that particular boss.

Jayne Mattson is a Senior Vice President at Keystone Associates, specializes in helping mid-to-senior level individuals in new career exploration, networking strategies and career decisions based on corporate culture fit.

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