Teardrops on laptops and deadlines on deadlock. Workshops and coffee runs and screaming matches. Death stares, overtime and complaining. These are a few of our least favourite things… (See what we did there?).
So, your job is a dream, but your manager is the walking, talking and emailing equivalent of Freddy Krueger? Like many newbies (or even semi-newbies) a difficult manager can sap the joy from what might otherwise be a very rewarding role. Situations like this often leave you feeling undervalued and wondering whether you should begin the exhausting search for something new.
BUT JUST STOP RIGHT THERE, Barry Allen. Before you start planning your dramatic exit, it’s a good idea to rethink how you can better manage the manager you already have – for all their flaws and shortcomings. Stop rollin’ your eyes and trust us. Here are our three tips to help you vanquish those bad manager vibes.
Rule 1: Know thy enemy.
It is time to go all Sherlock up on this situation and find out the following:
- What does your manager care about?
- What keeps your manager up at night?
- What would your manager love more of and less of daily?
- What frightens your manager?
- How much importance does your manager place on impressing others?
- How does your manager measure success and what does he/she think about failure?
When you know what drives your manager (even if he/she may not be fully conscious of it), you can frame your opinions and use language in ways that line up with their core values, concerns and priorities.
Rule 2: Turn yourself into the MVP.
One way is to help your manager focus on their natural strengths. Another is to work proactively around their weaknesses:
- If you know you have a manager who’s disorganised, then help them to be on top of things rather than whine about their lack of organisational skills.
- If you know your manager is often late for meetings, offer to kick off the next meeting for them.
- If your manager tends to change their mind frequently or is outright forgetful, be sure to document interactions so you can refer to them if they ever contradict themselves.
- If you know your manager is slow to respond, continue to work on a project while you wait to hear back from them.
Make yourself indispensable and someone your managers can rely on to help do their job. You will become the MVP, a valuable asset!
Rule 3: Act like the leader you wish your manager were.
It may be easy to embrace the darkness (my old friend) and succumb to resentment and mentally check out of your job. But by making this bad move, it can put you at risk of being branded a whiner, a slacker or both.
So if your manager is a shouter, don't react by shouting back. If they’re petty or small-minded, don't descend to that level too (however tempting!). Rather stay chilled and professional.
Your personal brand is something not even the whackest manager should take away from you. Build your personal brand, nurture your personal brand and take over the world.