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Bad blood with the boss? 4 steps to turn it around

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Question: “I’ve had trouble getting along with every manager I’ve ever had. In my last job, it got so bad that I asked for a transfer, but now I’ve run into the same issues with my new boss. I’ve already written to Human Resources about my communication problems with her. How can I turn this situation around?” —  Discouraged

Marie's Answer: If you’ve had issues with all your managers, then you must be doing something to trigger these difficulties. Before you can fix this problem, you must diagnose the cause. Here’s how:

1.    Consider these questions: Do you frequently argue with managers? Do you ignore requests or insist on doing things your way? Do you dislike being told what to do? If so, your high need for control may be creating a constant power struggle.

2.    Get some specific feedback by talking to people who know you well. Ask a few trusted colleagues for their honest opinions of your interactions with management. Listen to their answers with an open mind.

3.    Meet with your boss and declare your desire to be a better employee. Ask what you need to do differently, and then agree on a plan. If this conversation goes well, you will be on the road to better communication. 

4.    Don’t expect your manager’s opinion to change overnight. She needs time to believe that the “new you” is here to stay. 

In the future, avoid firing off written complaints to HR when you have concerns about your manager.  Requesting a confidential conversation would be a better approach. For more Office Coach suggestions on “managing up,” see How to Manage Your Boss

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