Advantage Career Solutions
Richard Phillips, Career Counselor and Coach
"No one can make you feel inferior without your consent"
 
- Eleanor Roosevelt

Don't Let A Bad Manager Wreck Your Career


As anyone who has worked for even a short time knows, the list of career hazards is extensive and loaded with potential trouble. One of the worst of these is a "bad' manager. A manager who doesn't support you at all or one who micro-manages your day in 15 minute increments. One who barely communicates and when he or she does, it is only to give negative feedback. One who doesn't share information and then blames you for making the wrong decision.

 

Sound familiar? Of course it does because most of us have had at least one "manager from hell" in our careers. Here are some suggestions for what you can do if your manager resembles the "pointy haired boss" from the Dilbert cartoon strip.

 

First, analyze what you like and don't like about the way your manager manages and note how this affects your work performance. The first key to solving the problem, if it can be solved, is to get away from generalizations and down to specifics of behavior.

 

Next, examine your own expectations. Are you asking your manager to be something he or she is not and can't be? It is a common tendency to ascribe superior characteristics to those who rank above us in a hierarchy. But becoming a manager does not turn a person into an all-powerful, all-knowing demi-god and if that's what we want, we are bound to be disappointed. Managers remain completely human even after their promotions with a human mix of strengths and weaknesses.

 

Also evaluate your own behaviors and take responsibility for anything you may be doing to provoke the negative (to you) managerial response you are getting. I once had a client who complained that her manager avoided her. In truth, however, my client was a highly independent worker who valued her autonomy and the manager was just being over-respectful of this characteristic. All too often, we, as employees play "read my mind" with our managers instead of taking the initiative to communicate with them.

 

In an ideal world, only those people with a deep understanding of human nature and a natural preference for leading them would be promoted to management positions. In the actual world, at least in my experience, managerial promotions are just as likely to be based on such criteria as seniority, level of technical knowledge, desire for advancement or political factors. The net consequence of this is that many people who become managers have neither a real aptitude nor a real interest. They may not like managing and they may not know how to do it. Unfortunately, the result may be that you have to to initiate some protective measures to ensure your career doesn't go down in flames because your manager can't manage.

 

Specifically, you should document all instances where poor management is affecting your job performance. Keep copies of emails, memos, meeting summaries, etc. If push does come to shove, you want to be able to demonstrate that a pattern of mismanagement has contributed to the problems you're having. You also want to be able to document what steps you pro actively took to try to improve the situation and what resulted from your efforts.

 

You should also make sure that you maintain relationships and visibility with your manager's peers. If you do decide to leave your job, you will need a reference from a manager who knows and respects your work. Plus, maintaining such relationships can help you get the positive feedback you may not be getting from your own manager.

 

Finally, pro actively manage your career, in good times and bad. In particular, don't wait passively until the situation is desperate and you feel backed into a corner. Make your best effort to change what you can, but also recognize your limitations and the limitations of the situation. Realize when the best option is to move on and take that step voluntarily because ultimately your goal should always be to maintain control over your own career destiny.


I offer a free 30 minute telephone session to help you get started toward solving your career challenges - such as getting what you really want. The session is an opportunity for you to talk with a professional counselor and coach about what you want from your career or job and to get some initial feedback on what some solutions might be. It is also gives you the chance to experience my counseling style to see if I'm someone you'd like to have help you.

Interested? Just clickGetting Started to get some details of what to expect and how to prepare.