Disagreeing With Your Boss The Right Way

disagree with boss

You’re in a meeting with your supervisor and he suggests something you know is infeasible.

Or perhaps your department head sends instructions for performing a task you’ve already scouted out and know there’s a more efficient way to accomplish things and still stay on budget.

Whatever the situation may be, at some point or another in your career, you’re going to disagree with someone more powerful than you. So what do you do when this situation comes?

It might be logical to toss your ideas aside, get in line and do what your superior believes needs to be done. That may not be the best idea.

There are certain circumstances where you must put your fears aside and speak up. What happens if the issue is going to cause problems by going significantly over budget? What if the project will obviously blow up in your team’s face at some point during the process, or worse, after delivery to the customer?

However, before you go charging into your manager’s office, take some time to evaluate your argument and consider these practical tips from Amy Gallo, a contributing editor at Harvard Business Review and author of HBR Guide to Managing Conflict at Work.

Contemplate Your Opinion and Approach

So, you know how to do something better than your boss does. Great!

Don’t assume that your insight into the issue is more valuable than your superior’s insight, and don’t automatically write off their approach.

When you have an opportunity to speak to your supervisor, carefully lay out your disagreement and alternative approach.

Use figures, examples or hypothetical scenarios that support your argument.

Frame the Conversation

Don’t get cocky about your argument and believe in your idea alone.

Often, disagreements are a great inroad to compromises that work better than any one idea alone would.

Before you even open your mouth, ask some probing questions about the issue at hand and listen to your superior’s perspective.

Then, before you insert your differing viewpoint, ask whether it’s okay for you to share an idea that contradicts the one to which your boss adheres. Getting his or her verbal buy-in will help the ensuing conversation to go much more smoothly.

Body Language and Speech

Your body language speaks volumes before you even finish crossing the threshold to your boss’s office.

Don’t walk in with your arms crossed and appear unwilling to listen. Nor should you walk in like you own the place.

Conversely, if you’re nervous, fake confidence in your stride and posture to let your boss know you mean business and believe in the proposal you’re about to put forth.

It can be intimidating to have a disagreement with a superior, but you don’t want to erode your position before you even open your mouth. Don’t tap your feet or physically shrink away from the conflict.

The way you speak, too, can belie your confidence. Focus on speaking in measured tones, placing enough emphasis on your words and keeping your volume level in check. People tend to raise the pitch of their voice and speak too quickly when they’re nervous, so try your best to control these tendencies.

Again, if you’re on the opposite side of the spectrum and feeling particularly angry or agitated about the situation, take care to control the tone of your voice. Measure your words and keep your voice down. Raising your voice and using poor word choices can escalate the situation, and that may have many negative effects on your conversation.

Think Through the Consequences

Think through the ways that the conversation could go, and try to come up with a defense for the best parts of your argument.

Similarly, think about what might happen if you don’t address the issue. Will your boss’s method of handling the situation cause your team to implode? Is the company’s reputation at stake? Are there significant financial ramifications to doing it your boss’s way, rather than another way?

There may be conversations that you can sit out of because not all disagreements need to be voiced. Learn to pick your battles carefully.

However, if you see that you have a solution that could save your team or your company from running into a serious problem down the road, you need to address it. Most reasonable managers will see the logic behind a better solution and shouldn’t let their pride get in the way of considering a new approach.

What If Your Boss Wants You To Do Something Wrong?

right and wrong at work

There are plenty of stories all over the internet of people stealing reusable sticky note pads, pens and more, and then they feel varying degrees of guilt over the actions they chose.

Sure, people agree that stealing from your employer is wrong, but what about when the leaders of your company are the ones encouraging the wrongdoing?

Many people haven’t thought about what they would do they were being pressured to do something bad for business, bad for customers and, in some cases, illegal.

In recent news about Wells Fargo, regulators found that employees secretly opened unauthorized accounts to hit sales targets and receive bonuses. Wells Fargo is paying $185 million to resolve the claims that they opened more than 2 million accounts and that thousands of employees were involved in the practice.

Some situations may look clearly wrong, but not everything is always so cut and dry. What should you do if you are in a situation where your boss wants you to do something that doesn’t seem right and there are indications that if you don’t go ahead, he/she might harm your career in some way.

Before you take any steps, Joseph Badaracco (Professor of Business Ethics at Harvard Business School) recommends that you should look at the situation as a manager and think like a rational human being.

As a result, you’ll be able to present a logical, well-organized, detail-oriented response and resolution.

Before you do anything, try and understand the situation objectively.

Put yourself in another’s shoes and look at the situation from many angles.

Is anyone being hurt or experiencing damage? Is this illegal? Is this ethical? What is the standard or best-practice?

By giving yourself some time to conduct such analysis, you can better judge the situation and key players.

Find a trusted confidante.

Look for someone you can trust in the organization who might have more knowledge of the company’s business practices than you, and ask that person for his or her opinion on the situation.

A fresh, new perspective might help you understand the reasoning behind the decisions and actions your boss is asking of you. You can also get some pointers on how to handle the situation.

Write it down.

There’s a reason your parents told your younger self to write down all of the pros and cons — the list making technique is extremely helpful.

Write down each of your option for handling the situation and think through all of the positives and negatives of each, from getting fired to earning a raise. Also consider the probabilities of each happening.

Use this time to also think through another response to the situation that would be legal and still accomplish the same purpose.

Talk to your boss.

The reason it’s important to think through everything and take a good look at your options is so that rather than encountering negative reactions or responses from your boss when you talk to him or her about the situation, you can present yourself as a team player looking out for the best interest of the company (rather than an employee who is accusing their boss).

Don’t Forget About The Big Boss

boss's boss at work

Getting to know your boss and having a good professional relationship is important to your job, career and sanity. A good working relationship can lead to career success and professional longevity.

However, a relationship with those higher than you shouldn’t stop with your immediate supervisor. Knowing and having a relationship with your boss’s boss is just as important for your time with the company and your career.

Many people find themselves wondering what kind of relationship is ideal in this situation, how and when to interact with their supervisor’s boss, and how to develop and maintain this relationship while still respecting their own immediate supervisor.

As a result of not knowing the best answer to these questions, employees find themselves missing out on opportunities for growth and development. Rebecca Knight (Professor at Wesleyan University) has some excellent tips to avoid this.

Why You Should Get to Know Your Boss’s Boss

Your direct supervisor’s boss is closer to the leadership of the organization, and this person is more likely to have a better understanding of the company’s goals, mission, strategy and long-term plans. Having a strong relationship with this individual gives you access to a greater wealth of information, which, in turn, helps you make more educated decisions regarding your position.

A good relationship with your boss’s boss also puts another person in your corner for promotions, raises or excellent career-building opportunities. That person will be more likely to advocate for you and present you as a potential candidate if he or she knows you well.

Even so, it can be difficult to start or even maintain this relationship when you still want to show respect and professionalism to your immediate supervisor, without appearing to go over your supervisor’s head.

Five Top Tips for Success

  1. Be engaged and interested. Asking questions and demonstrating engagement and interest in your supervisors and the department, shows that you take your role in the company’s long-term growth seriously.
  2. Look for commonalities. Find something that you both truly enjoy and then connect. This could be things like movies, sports, fashion, a particular cause, technology and so on. Use them to connect, engage and develop the relationship.
  3. Be polite. Not everyone will like everyone — if that’s the case with your boss’s boss, maintain a polite and cordial relationship.
  4. Be bold and valuable. Don’t be scared to take on more responsibility or larger assignments, and seek out leadership positions that will help you stand out. Share your ideas and solutions. Also, don’t be afraid to blow your own horn about all of this, once in a while.

But always remember. You still have to report to your direct manager. Your first priority should always be to build and maintain the relationship with your direct supervisor.

Understand why your boss is a bully or jerk

boss bullying jerk

There have been several studies completed by researchers on the issue of supervisors who do not treat their employees well.

Some interesting perspectives on the subject are provided by Sherry Moss, who is a Professor of Organisation Studies at Wake Forest University. Sherry refers to such supervisors as “bullying bosses.”

According to Professor Moss, several forms of non-physical aggression, such as putting employees down in front of others, blaming them for things that are not their fault, accusing them of incompetence, ridiculing them, and not giving them credit for the work they have completed, are typical behaviors of bullying bosses.

Some of the negative effects created by these behaviors include job dissatisfaction, emotional exhaustion, and psychological distress. Being treated like this by a boss or manager has also been linked to counterproductive behaviors. For example, if bullying occurs within an organization, employees may begin to purposely slow down the flow of the work, not follow the instructions given by the boss, or show up late for work – if they arrive at all.

An employee who has been bullied by his boss also may end up bullying others himself, without even realizing what is taking place. The habit just becomes natural. When bullied by a boss long enough, an employee may start to be rude to others, humiliating their co-workers; he may even sometimes begin to be aggressive towards the other people he works with.  Bullying also leads to a high turnover rate.

There are many factors that can lead to bullying behavior of bosses. They may be under a lot of pressure from their own supervisor, deal with a lot of stress that comes with their position, and often they may be dealing with frustrating co-workers themselves, which affects their other business relationships. Since they are not able to take these frustrations out on someone above them on the corporate ladder, they look for someone weaker.

These attitudes and behaviors may have nothing to do with the work atmosphere whatsoever. Sometimes the way they act is a direct reflection of their inability to properly handle emotions, and can often be associated with family abuse.

According to research that Professor Moss has been involved in, bullying bosses are most likely to target  employees who are vulnerable or weak, such as people with low self-esteem or low-performing employees.

You might think that star performers would be spared from bullying. In order to give these star workers every opportunity to excel at what they do, a supervisor would be more willing to keep their bullying behavior clear from these employees.

This is not an accurate conclusion, according to the previously cited research. Star employees are also victims of bullying.

So what are the motivations/reasons for bosses to display bullying behavior?

In order to understand exactly why this happens, it is beneficial to be familiar with Social Dominance Theory. The concept explains why certain people have a higher tendency towards social dominance orientation, SDO, than other people. People with a higher SDO generally have a more competitive/dog-eat-dog view of the world and a ‘me verses them’ attitude which is used to separate the losers from the winners.

Individuals with this worldview become attracted to professions and institutions which reinforce and enhance social hierarchies and are more likely to demonstrate a discriminating attitude against groups of a lower-status. This causes them to defend inequality in a way which sustains their access to wealth, power, and status.

How can you deal with a boss with a high SDO?

Professor Moss suggests that you show your boss you respect their position in the hierarchy and avoid overshadowing them. Share the spotlight with them, both privately and publicly.

To find out where you stand on the social dominance scale and/or to understand the behavior of your boss better, complete the questionnaire here.

Bosses that Fear Losing Power May Sabotage Their team

bad boss sabotage team productivity

While bad bosses come in many shapes and sizes including the disorganized, incompetent, and lazy, the worst yet may be those who sabotage their teams.

Professor of organizations and management at Kellogg School, Jon Maner has dedicated himself to studying the boss that fears losing their own leadership/power status.

Specifically, Maner has studied how these bosses sabotage their teams in order to stay on top.

Such bosses will intentionally mismatch teams, place limitations on team bonding and communication, and purposefully take the best players out of the game.

Maner says that these bosses can effectively eliminate any team dynamic by separating individuals and making the team fall apart.

Along with his colleague Charleen Case, a Kellogg School doctoral student, they noticed that bosses motivated by power and dominance were significantly more likely to sabotage the team, than bosses motivated by respect or prestige.

Identifying Why and How Power-Hungry Leaders Sabotage

In one experiment, Maner and Case told undergraduate students that they should expect to lead a group in performing a verbal task. More prizes would be awarded to better scoring groups. These participants were then told that one group member was highly skilled in the task.

Next, these participants were assigned to one of three experimental groups.

  1. The first group was told they would need to be the leader who supervised the task and divided prizes among the group members.
  2. The second was told to supervise the task and give out the prizes but that the leadership role was unstable and someone else could acquire it.
  3. The third group had no leader and all participants would share prizes equally.

Maner and Case were most interested in learning which leaders, under which conditions, would be most likely to undermine their group’s performance. And to see if they would isolate the highly skilled group member in order to limit communication.

As suspected the researchers found that leaders in the second group who had previously tested highly in their desire for power were the most likely to sabotage their teams. They most often did this by going after the skilled team member.

In one experiment, the leader forced the highly skilled team member to work alone in a room despite being told that team work would improve results. In another experiment, the saboteur paired the skilled team member in a group they knew would fail.

Maner was surprised to learn how far these leaders would go in order to retain their own power. Instead of identifying the highly skilled team member as an ally who can help the team win, the leader was threatened by their level of skill thus limiting their influence in the group.

When power hungry bosses think that the management structure is unstable and/or their job security is threatened, they are increasingly likely to employ undermining tactics. Their number one tactic is to remove highly skilled team members from contact with the others.

Dealing with a Saboteur at Work

Although Maner’s experimental results were revealing, these behaviors happen every day in the workplace. So the question is, how can people/organizations prevent this type of sabotage from happening on the job?

  • One suggestion would be clarifying that the leader’s job security relies on the success of the group as a whole.
  • Manner also suggests that leaders must know that they will be held accountable for their actions and won’t be able to shuffle the blame to a subordinate.
  • Another strategy would be for organizations to standardize and regulate team communications so bad bosses would have less opportunity to interfere.

But these suggestions would not solve the entire problem, since the root cause would still exist i.e the boss feeling that their position/power is unstable.

In an effort to keep an organization’s flexibility while promoting a better work environment, Maner suggests companies try instituting periods of stability so bosses know their jobs are secure.

These periods of two or three years would alternate with the opportunity to change leadership if needed. This suggestion would be similar to that of elected government officials who hold office between two and six years.

Finding Leaders Who Aren’t Power Hungry

If an organization can give those seeking respect and prestige positions of leadership, less sabotaging might result.

Unfortunately, those who want power are often the ones who strive for leadership positions and are eager to move up to roles of higher responsibility.

Although Maner’s work seems to favor the prestige-seeking leaders, he cautions that this might be an oversimplification and that they’re not necessarily an organization’s remedy. He plans to focus more research on these leaders’ decision making process. Ultimately, Maner wants his research to help increase productivity and improve a company’s efficiency.

Dealing with weak, under-qualified, horrible or unfair bosses

bad horrible weak underqualified bully boss

The boss-employee relationship is often a satisfying and useful one, but what happens when you become unsatisfied with how your boss is handling things in the workplace?

Recognizing areas of concern and knowing how to approach your boss about them, in a professional and courteous manner is quite important.

Listed here are five articles that detail how to handle such situations without souring your working relationship with your superiors.

“Seven Sign Your Boss is a Weak Manager” – FORBES

This article is dedicated to helping you determine whether your boss is a weak manager by looking for seven distinct signs.

Weak managers:

  1. Already know the answer.
  2. Tell you what you’re doing wrong instead of what you’re doing right.
  3. Bluster and badger people.
  4. Don’t want to hear what you think.
  5. Don’t want to change anything.
  6. Threaten people who speak up.
  7. Are afraid.

If any of these signs sound familiar to your situation, this article is worth checking out. Always remember that your boss is not infallible, and you should not have to put up with unprofessional conduct.

“How to Tell Someone (Like Your Boss) That They are Wrong – Without Getting Fired” – LINKEDIN

Situations like this are tough, you know your superior is wrong and harming the workflow, but you are afraid approaching them about it will just cause you workplace grief.

While there is risk behind approaching a superior about work performance, in a proper workplace environment it will be appreciated if done correctly.

This article provides seven useful tips for approaching these situations: pick your battles, choose your time carefully, back up your statements with data, offer a solution, don’t assign blame, and don’t be afraid to admit when you made a mistake.

By following these guidelines, you should be able to take on this difficult task with clear goals and intentions. If you want to learn more about the specifics about each of these tips, make sure to read the article.

“What to do if Your Boss is a Bully” – THE GUARDIAN

Intending to provide support for those who are victims of overbearing and unfair bosses, this Guardian article provides four specific tasks that will help to alleviate the situation.

  • Firstly, you should always speak with a mentor or impartial third party. This can help you identify if the situation you are in is unfair and can also help when strategizing about how to approach your boss.
  • Next you should approach your boss directly about the unfair treatment. While this may be uncomfortable, it will undoubtedly help your approach to speak with them first, before contacting higher workplace authorities. If this approach does not work, or if your relationship with your boss is particularly volatile, you should speak to HR. They are in place to handle these exact situations and should have no issue handling them for you.
  • Finally, it is important that you do not allow yourself to lose self-confidence after this trying situation.

For more specific info about how to handle a bully of a boss, head over to The Guardian.

“When You’re More Qualified than the Boss” – FORBES

In some situations, you may enter a workplace where you are actually more qualified than your superior.

This can be particularly worrisome for entry-level employees. When dealing with this situation always make sure to not take it personal, and approach it with a professional attitude.

Forbes knows business, and their article will take you through 13 steps that will help you in this situation.

By examining your specific situation in accordance to what the article presents, Forbes aims to help you determine your course of action; in extreme situations you may even want to look for another job.

Check out the content-heavy article to find the right approach for you.

“How to Know if You are a Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Boss” – TLNT

Taking a different approach, this TLNT article aims to help bosses self-evaluate and determine if they are a “terrible, horrible, no good, very bad boss.”

Among the telling signs included are bosses who always take credit, keep team members from developing trust, and don’t explain why when asked.

However, the news isn’t all bad; TLNT also provides tips on how to become a better boss if you feel you have room for improvement.

Whether you are wondering about your effectiveness as a boss or are in the market for some improvement tips, this TLNT article is sure to provide helpful content.

3 Different Kinds of Bosses and How to Manage Up

types of bosses managing

“Managing Up” is not a phrase you often hear. The idea that employees should also manage their bosses seems counterintuitive — aren’t higher-ups supposed to be the one in charge?

But when you think about it, the idea that only managers are responsible for the success of a task or a working relationship seems absurd. Your very human boss (the boss who also makes mistakes, can’t always read your mind, and is sometimes — or often! —- beset with personality quirks) needs help so that you’d both arrive at the same place.

To get a better idea of what managing up entails, imagine your boss mouthing the famous Jerry McGuire line: “help me help you.” That’s right, managing up is basically helping your boss manage you.

However you look at it, the skill of managing up will make you a more productive and a less stressed employee. So consider below 3 common types of managers and how you can help them help you.

The firefighter.

These bosses are always in emergency mode; there’s always a raging fire that needs to be put out therefore every task they assign is urgent and important. The problem is you can only attend to one thing at a time. Getting one pressing task after another, and receiving constant “where is the report I asked you to make ten minutes ago?” is the shortest path to an ulcer.

So, how to manage up?

First off, don’t catch their stress. Getting all tense and anxious yourself will keep you from the clear head you need to approach the “crisis” objectively. Instead, calmly explain how much time and resources you have, share what tasks you have on your parking bay, and ask which one is higher in priority. “I have 2 hours to work before the noon deadline. You assigned me to work on report A and B both of which would take 1 hour and ½ to finish. Which would you like me to start working on first?”

Sometimes firefighter bosses simply need to be reminded that you’re a person and not a machine, and that you function better without a ticking clock in your ear. If this approach doesn’t work, explain to your boss that to meet the deadline, you’d have to make some shortcuts, so perhaps output standards can be lowered to meet the timeframe.

The weather disturbance.

You know how these bosses are. Sometimes they want to talk to you, sometimes they don’t. One morning they’re all upbeat and cheery, the next they’re the bearer of doom. There are moments when proposals get approved without question, but catch him or her (hey, mercurial moods are not exclusive to the female sex!) at a bad time, and similar proposals get thrown out of the window.

How to manage up?

Having a moody boss will require your keen powers of observation, especially in the science of behavior. As the chances of calling out your boss without getting burnt is nil, what you need to do is make the adjustments yourself.

Figure out the times your boss is in a good mood. Is he a morning person who works best after 3 cups of caffeine, or does his motor run better during midday? What kind of people get on his nerves? What is his or her communication style? What kind of reporting does he respond best with?

Time your reports when he’s less likely to be cranky. Watch out as well for other signs that he’s in a bad mood so that you can act accordingly. And don’t get mad or hold grudges. Aim for empathy. Perhaps your boss suffers from intense pressure from his or her own bosses, or maybe your boss’ health is not in tip-top shape. If your boss’ mood swings are all bluster anyway — meaning he still gets the job done at the end of the day —  maybe you can afford to be a little more patient.

The laissez-faire to the extreme.

This kind of boss rarely interferes on the daily operations of his department or company. He gives minimal instructions and doesn’t check for accountability. Now, while some degree of autonomy is great for empowering staff, this one is more of the neglect you variety. What’s worse is, when things go wrong, it’s you who takes the blame.

How to manage up?

Now before you get frustrated enough to type that resignation letter, perhaps you can start by increasing your boss’s awareness of that fact that you’re flapping around like fish out of water. It’s easy to make the assumption that your boss is lazy but perhaps he honestly believes you’re better off with less control. Maybe the hands-off approach is because he or she trusts you enough to get the job done. If so, take the proactive route and just constantly ask for directions instead of waiting for instructions to fall out of the sky.

Do your work to the best of your ability and perhaps take the opportunity to shine. Understand your boss’ weaknesses and supplement it when you can. Anticipate potential problems and solve it yourself. Get motivated by the fact that in doing so you’d probably get to replace your boss one day. The move sounds manipulative and tacky at first, but if you’ve already made your boss aware of the problem and he or she does nothing about it, perhaps your boss has it coming. Upper management is going to notice sooner or later who’s greasing the gears and if you’re a better boss for the company, then take the challenge.

Is Your Manager From a Different Generation?

manager from a different generation

Here’s a rarely touched upon communication barrier: generation gap between managers and employees.

You could be a Millennial (born from the 1980s to early 2000s) whose boss is a Baby Boomer (born in the mid 1940s to mid 1960s). You have tons of ideas you want to try out, you work with the latest technology, but you have a boss who prefers tried and tested formulas and systems that were in place since time immemorial.

Or it can be the complete opposite. You can be an oldie in the company, honed by years of experience, suddenly faced with a fresh grad hotshot. While you’re respectful of any person with a position, it’s hard to take commands from someone you perceive is still green. They may feel too aggressive, too impulsive, or too naïve. This is still not considering any resentment you might harbor for having a newbie take a promotion before you do.

The good news is: generation gap between you and management is a surmountable obstacle. Like any communication barrier, it begins with a readiness to understand differences and see the good in diversity.

Consider below Institute of Policy Studies (IPS)  that can help you bridge the years between you and your boss.

1. Appreciate that successful companies are those that profit from a multi-generational workforce.

While it seems at times you’re being forced to take sides, different values across generations actually balance each other out. Young people who have a heightened sense of urgency, for example, get things moving. Those with some years on them ensure that each step is carefully thought out. Similarly, Baby Boomers are great at building from scratch while Millennials excel at innovating what’s already there.

Remember: it’s not a competition. Think of generation gaps as no different from clashes between personalities or disciplines. The key is finding how to work together, not how to prove one’s better than the other.

2. Empathize; you’ve either been there or about to get there.

Dealing with a boss from a different generation requires a lot of appreciation for the quirks of human development.

If your boss is way older than you, remind yourself that you would someday be in his or her shoes, dealing with a subordinate who speaks a different language and uses technology you can’t tell from an abacus. Think of the grandparents (and parents as well) you’re fond of: they require a lot of patience — and from time to time, saving from embarrassment.

In the same vein, if your manager is way younger — excitable and annoyed with having to pull in work beyond office hours — remember you were once in their shoes. Think of the mentor who guided you, and see if you can function the same way. More so, appreciate that while they may not have the years to back up their theories, they do have one thing you don’t: immersion in the current culture. Take a quiet moment to observe how the present crop of managers does things, and you might be surprised at how your boss is actually acting within norm.

3. Focus on interests.

You may have different attitudes and different ways of doing things, but you both want the same thing: progress in the company’s bottom line. So whenever there seems to be clashes, discuss objectively the pros and cons of each suggestion. All decisions made must be about accomplishing work goals, not the age of the person who pitched the idea.

4. Create a manager-subordinate relationship that balances freedom with control.

At the end of the day it boils down to what kind of relationship you have with your boss.

Effective managers delegate without micromanaging: they specify what kind of output they want and rarely interfere with how it gets done. Strive for this kind of relationship with your boss. If you have the freedom to approach your task in however way you want, you may be able to avoid the skirmishes that come with generational mismatch.

But at the same time, respect your boss for being, well, the boss. There’s a reason leaders are given their position in the first place; likely they possess the competence or potential to do the job. Don’t knock off their management skills until you’ve given it a fair shake. For all you know, you might get surprised by how much you’ve learned.

5. Get to know your manager better.

Lastly, if you want to have a more productive and even enjoyable relationship with your boss, do what you can to understand him or her better. An attitude of wanting to understand can stop you from acting out on knee-jerk reactions that may adversely affect your career.

Start with understanding the differences among generations of workers, especially the characteristics of the generation your manager belongs to. The internet has plenty of resources for this end. But don’t get stuck with just generational traits; your boss is an individual, not a stereotype. Find the ways he or she doesn’t fall into the cookie-cutter mold of an age group.

If you can at least meet your boss halfway when it comes to attitudes and ways of working, the generational gap may not matter in the end.

8 Ways To Deal with Feeling Unappreciated At Work

unappreciated at work

Every single one of us has bad days at work.  Even employees working in their dream job will encounter setbacks and frustrations. The problem arises when those setbacks and frustrations outweigh the enjoyable times.  If you are feeling continually unappreciated at work, the solutions below may help.

Eliminate Your Emotions : If you feel like every great idea or suggestion you put forward is generally ignored while your colleagues are praised for their efforts, your stress levels are probably running high. You may feel frustrated, resentful and emotionally exhausted all at the same time. As tempting as it may be to vent your feelings on your boss and co-workers, don’t.  Not only is it unprofessional, it will undermine your credibility. If things are really that bad, remove yourself from the immediate situation; take a ten minute break, make yourself a drink, get some fresh air outside the office. If that’s not possible, grit your teeth and quietly count to ten. Allowing your emotions to dominate will only exacerbate an already difficult situation.

Work Out What Makes You Feel Valued : It’s easy to work out why you feel unappreciated at work; long hours, an unmanageable workload and lack of recognition for your contributions at work are just some of the most common. Turn that on its head and analyze what would make you feel valued. Understanding what it is that you need to improve your current circumstances will enable you to be pro-active and turn the situation around. Sometimes, it may be something as simple as your boss saying ‘thank you’ for a job well done, or the afternoon off in lieu of the long hours you’ve worked.  

Talk To Your Manager : Don’t seethe inwardly, it will eventually permeate your work and affect your relationships with your colleagues.  Once you understand what’s causing your malaise and how it can be put right, request a meeting with your boss to discuss your concerns. Far too few employees get any one-to-one time with their boss outside their annual performance review, by which time the damage is done. Prepare an agenda explaining your predicament, together with suggestions on how to improve the issues that concern you. Present solutions, not problems – and don’t ever make it personal.

Look For A New Job :  You may have already followed the previous advice, had a candid discussion with your boss and discovered that things aren’t improving – and in some cases may be stagnating or getting worse.  If this is the case, you may need to look for a new job, either within your current company or with a different employer altogether. Before you make that step, be sure that you have reviewed all of your options and understand what it is that is making you feel unappreciated at work. Always check your own attitude too; if in doubt about how you may be perceived, ask a colleague or friend you can trust.

Focus On Your Career Development : Are you up-to-date with the skills needed to carry out your current role successfully? Are there any areas that would benefit from training? If you are finding it difficult to secure another job or improve your current situation because you lack those skills needed to move or excel, request additional on-the-job training. If the answer from your employer is negative, is it feasible to fund your own training or seek support from a mentor?  You’ll feel better for being pro-active.

Help Your Colleagues : How can you help your co-workers? Where can you share the benefit of your skills and experience to help others who may be struggling or lacking knowledge (without expecting anything in return)? Try it next time you are feeling unappreciated; it will help you to feel better about yourself and may also help to put things in a new perspective.

Remember Your Long-Term Career Strategy : What is your long-term career strategy? It’s easy to get so swept up in what’s directly in front of us that we forget our career strategy and lose sight of our long-term goals.  Why are you in this job? Does it fit within your long-term career plan? If not, how can you readjust your situation and get yourself back on course? Do you have an advisor or colleague you can consult for guidance and support? Is there someone within your social network who will provide candid advice? Revisit your original long-term career strategy and if you don’t have one, perhaps now is the time to create it.  

Make A Difference In Your Personal Life : Are there issues in your personal life that are affecting the way you feel about your job?  If your work/life balance is suffering or impacting your attitude at work try to identify areas where you may be able to improve your personal life. Perhaps you can volunteer for local charity work or in schools. Serving others will again take the emphasis off you; what’s more, it may give you the clarity you need to put your working life into perspective and move forward.


year end performance appraisal

Performance appraisal time has the effect of creating discomfort amongst both the judge and the judged.

A lot has been written about the effectiveness of performance appraisal methods and no definitive best practice has been identified. Lately, employers have put a positive spin on the benefits of the process for both the employer and employee by putting more emphasis on two-way communication.

Employees might dislike the process for various reasons. It may be that internally the process is applied inconsistently throughout the organization, or there is a push to achieve a normal distribution curve despite evidence of general high performance. Managers can be biased, they can make errors and many try to avoid conflict and want to get it over with as soon as possible.  What needs to be understood is that performance appraisal is a process not an event, designed to benefit both parties. Regular feedback throughout the year avoids surprises at the end.

Performance appraisals come in different forms

  • 360 degree reviews include input from your peers, subordinates, line manager and even others that you interact with on a day-to-day basis.  This is an expensive exercise which needs tight HR management and is therefore mostly only used in large organizations.
  • Line Manager / Employee review without input from others is common especially in smaller organizations.
  • Peer reviews from co-workers, customers and suppliers.
  • Upward reviews from subordinates and team members.
  • Self-appraisal is often an element used in all of the above to round out the picture.

Whatever form it will take, formal preparation for an appraisal interview is critical, whether it has been requested or not.

Preparing for your performance appraisal

Let’s see how an employee can turn his appraisal, a bit like a visit to the dentist, into a dialogue that can provide openings into possible career opportunities and insights into personal development.

One of the best pieces of advice I can give you, is not to wait till year end to discuss expectations and performance with your boss. Make it a regular conversation and have a discussion with your supervisor at least once a quarter. This will ensure both of you are on the same page and avoid surprises later on. Ask your boss how you are doing and what you can change/do to ensure that you get the rating you want.

It is also good to take your self-appraisal seriously. This requires taking a long, hard look at your work accomplishments and referring back to the expectations provided to you in your job description or by your manager.  Throughout the year, collect any supporting points and factual documentation that you can use to support your point of view and have your last appraisal ready for reference.  Many appraisers come unprepared and become subjective in their judgements, so it is crucial that you should be ready and well prepared.

Consider these questions and discussion points:

  • How well did you do overall?  Where/what did you do best?
  • What could you have done better/more efficiently?
  • How good were your working relationships with co-workers?
  • What skills training or coaching do you need to do your job better?
  • What are your goals for the next year?  What must change for this to happen?
  • What can your manager change to help you to succeed?

The performance appraisal and its outcome

The discussion can take the tone of what is called a “feedback sandwich”.  The tough issues will be fitted in between compliments and positive comments on your performance.  Be honest with yourself and stay objective in the face of criticism. Stay in control and don’t allow yourself to be drawn into arguments that don’t relate to your performance on the job.

Remember you are here to compare your achievements to the goals that were set, hopefully together, at the last meeting. Based on this comparison you can arrive at a performance rating that reflects your contributions.

Take the opportunity at the meeting to get clarity about what to expect in terms of remuneration, training and development opportunities and the possibility of a promotion or work expansion.  This information is very helpful in clearing up misunderstandings about pay, increases, benefits, etc.

At the end of the appraisal conversation, the aim is to leave it having the satisfaction of knowing that you have been heard.  It is also important to listen, even if it feels painful, as there may be clues in it for you that could determine  your future path.

Discuss with your manager how you feel he could help you to be successful.  Everyone likes to be asked for their opinion and managers like to see their staff do well as it reflects positively on them too.  Take away the positives from the conversation and consider how you can use this new knowledge to advantage.

Not all employees have a shot at a performance review, make yours work for you.

What Type Of Boss Do You Have?


No matter whom we are, what we do, why we do it and where we live, 99% of us have had someone we call boss, manager, supervisor, or any other title that makes us accountable to them (to avoid confusion, from here on in, I will refer to this person as “boss”).

Bosses come in various shapes and sizes. While researching this topic, I stopped after finding 40 different types of bosses! Knowing that was ridiculous, I compared all the information gathered, and obviously saw a variety of “names” for bosses with the same kind of traits. After narrowing this down, I found 10 distinct types of bosses that were described in at least three sources. Surprisingly (or perhaps not so surprisingly), most of the typical bosses are flawed in one way or another. Dealing with a difficult boss can be quite a painful affair and some of the bosses mentioned below can be a real nightmare.

  1. He’ll “Control your Soul” More commonly known as a control freak, nitpicker, or micro-manager, this boss is my personal nightmare. Nothing you do will ever please the control freak. He will question every decision you make about everything. Anything that doesn’t match up to his standards will automatically be discarded. You walk around on eggshells, afraid to breathe wrong, cough, or God forbid, have an original thought. You lose faith in your abilities, and begin to second-guess all your decisions. Soon you can’t think or function on your own. It’s believed the driving force behind this behavior is anxiety about failing or making mistakes. Controlling others gives them reassurance that the right path is taken.
  2. “BFF,” Best Friends Forever? He must know Paris Hilton! This boss wants to be your best friend, not your boss. He will go to great lengths to avoid conflicts or confrontations, and do anything to make sure his employees like him. He will often tell jokes that aren’t funny, invite you to his kids’ birthday parties, and even pull childish pranks on his staff. For the most part, you’ll have a positive work environment, but since his expectations are never fully clear, you are typically unsure of what do you, and also uncertain if you’re doing it right.
  3. “Just Mean and Nasty, and I Mean it” Also goes by names like monster, bully, the shouter, devil, and the boss from hell! This type of boss is one you want to avoid at all costs. Your life will be miserable. He has a tendency to scream at you, in front of other employees and customers, and typically does this to anyone, anywhere. He is totally unapproachable, and shows he has no compassion, pity, remorse or human decency. He seems to take pleasure in belittling you for no reason. In business he is ruthless; would push his mother under a bus if it benefited him in some way. One source stated her boss was heard to say, “I had to let him go; he wasn’t showing the right level of commitment. He preferred to go to his mother’s funeral rather than come to work. What do they think we’re running here? A holiday camp?” Run for your life, while you still have an ounce of sanity!
  4. “Bumble, Bumble This Boss Will Fumble” This boss is so incompetent and useless, someone must have died for him to get the position! He won’t give you straight answers, because he has none, but refuses to take the blame for anything that goes wrong. He has an alibi or excuse for everything, and even “documented” proof showing he wasn’t around at the time, or other things to cover his a**. He has no ambition or drive, and is so boring and uninspiring, he probably couldn’t motivate a dog to bark! If you have a great idea that you know will work, don’t take it to this lackluster character, because he won’t have the intelligence to understand it.
  5. “All Work and No Play. . . .” — This martyr will work Christmas, Thanksgiving, and can be found at the office at 4:00 am. What’s worse is, he expects you to do it too! Its business all the time; no fun, no emotion, no personal pictures or items allowed. He knows when you’re goofing off, and even knows when you’re just thinking about goofing off. He doesn’t sleep, eat, drink, pee or have a life, and doesn’t expect you to either. He’s been heard saying, “I walked to the office for six weeks after my car crash, even though both my legs were broken. Why can’t you stay another hour each night, without pay? I would.”
  6. “And I Do Mean Demean” This manager is similar to Mr.Mean & Nasty, except he focusses on and takes great pleasure in belittling and humiliating, for no apparent reason at all. His ego is so big, you wonder how he gets through the door. He lets you know each day how much of his time is wasted just acknowledging your existence, let alone answering your questions. Then he’ll poke his head out his office, yell as loud as he can to the rest of the staff, “So-and-so doesn’t know how to . . . .,” does someone want to show this idiot how to do it,” and for good measure he’ll throw in, “if he’s not too stupid to understand!” Every day after this, he has another cutting remark. “Do you know how to turn the computer on?” “Should someone show you how to alphabetize these?” “When the big hand is on the 12 and so is the little hand, you can go to lunch.” He makes you feel so awful and useless, but if you show it upsets you, he’ll only do it more. The only way to get this egomaniac off your back, is to give him a taste of his own medicine.
  7. “Do What I Say, Not What I Do” This hypocrite will say anything to get what he wants from you. You want a raise? A promotion? Time off? No, problem – but don’t hold your breath. His only motive is self-interest, and what’s in it for him. He’ll promise you anything, but never deliver. What’s more, everyone has different rules. This charlatan plays favorites; and like the “teacher’s pet” maybe you’ll get to eat lunch with the “big kids.” Take advantage while it lasts, because as soon as he finds a new patsy, you’ll be dropped like a hot potato.
  8. “Scheme a Little Scam for Me”   He’s so obsessed with protecting his position, he’ll go to any extreme. Smart and shrewd, he’ll manipulate you into believing he genuinely cares. It’s all a big act; he wants you to feel so secure and well liked, you will share your weaknesses and fears. I really had a boss like this. She was the epitome of innocence and selflessness; a do-gooder, who was always willing to help. Everyone loved her, especially the superiors she worked so hard to impress. I don’t remember how I figured it out, but she would give me an important project, knowing I couldn’t possibly finish it. Of course she had the missing pieces, and no one was the wiser. She always swooped in at the last minute and saved the day! The more she took credit for my hard work, the more incompetent I’d appear. Her other trick was to steal/remove part of my work, when I wasn’t around, and watch as I went crazy, thinking I was losing my mind!  You can’t report this manager, because of course, no one would believe you, so you must beat him at his own game. When no one is around, you either find and take back the work he stole off your desk, or remove some of his. He’ll finally realize you’re on to him, but can’t report you, because you’ll spill your guts! The other thing you can do is get one of those hidden cameras and catch him in the act. You’ll be the hero and he’ll be out on the street.
  9. “Shrinking Violet” This boss has no backbone. He avoids any kind of confrontation or discord, like the plague, but unlike the “BFF” boss, this guy is unquestionably too afraid to deal with altercations of any type. As a manager, he is often faced with difficult decisions, such as firing employees. However, because Mr. “Weakest Link,” has panic attacks just thinking about reprimanding an employee, let alone firing him, your office is a free-for-all. Knowing they can get away with just about anything, the freeloaders slack off even more, others join in, and the few of you who actually work, get stuck doing it all. Worse yet, this “fraidy cat” is likely to wet his pants if a senior manger wants to talk to him. Because of this, he is even too scared to back up his own staff, and often winds up throwing them under the bus, so to speak, and getting them fired. The only way to deal with a boss like this, is to take the bull by the horns, march in his office and bluntly tell him, if he doesn’t get firm and do something about the riff-raff, you will! At the next company meeting or if there’s a suggestion box, propose assertiveness training courses for all employees.
  10. “Mr. Wonderful” I’ve saved the best one for last. This manager is too good to be true. You wait for the bomb to drop, the rug to be pulled out from under you, but it never does. He doesn’t just ‘talk the talk,’ but really ‘walks the talk’ as well. This guy is actually real! He is supportive, encouraging, helpful, and believes work can be fun. He motivates his staff in positive ways, and even when he must criticize or reprimand, he will always bring up your strengths before saying anything negative. He’s diplomatic, fair, patient, and most of all H-U-M-A-N! As long as you are doing your job, and don’t take advantage, he understands that people get sick, have family emergencies, and sometimes just need a “mental health” day. Work your butt off, and be thankful every day, because managers like this don’t come along often. On the other hand, don’t get too complacent, cocky, think you’ve got it made, or push your luck, because wonderful as he is, he’s no patsy either. He can be tough if he needs to be, and the one thing that will make him crazy is if you take advantage of his goodness. Do that once too often, and you’ll wonder where Mr. Wonderful went!
So what type of boss do you have? Does he fall into one or more of these categories? Do you have any tips for dealing with a difficult boss?

Has your boss promised you a promotion or salary raise but not delivered?

There is not much research on the best ways to approach such a situation with your boss, however, I would like to provide a few practical tips and pointers, which could be useful.

Dealing with a ‘Carrot Dangler’ boss, requires you to be patient and calm and not lose your cool because you are feeling short-changed. You also need to be methodical and aware of your future in the organisation while working towards your goals. A few points to remember:

1. Have a Communication Trail with your Boss

If promises have been made to you during your appraisal discussion, make a note of the same in your appraisal form before you sign off. Alternatively, write an e-mail thanking your boss for this opportunity to prove yourself and how you intend to work on the same. This not only serves as proof later, but also alerts your boss to the fact that you have been “listening”!

This communication trail can serve to be a reminder too. When you feel sufficient time has gone by and there is no update on the promise made, revisit this e-mail and use it as a channel for discussions on whether your performance is in line with the promised role, whether you need to make any changes, attend any training programs, etc. This should be trigger enough for your boss to remember his/her promise to you. You may also find out that your boss did not fail to deliver, but was constrained (by factors beyond his/her control) to deliver on the promise.

2. Approach Human Resources (HR) or your SKIP Manager:

If there have been too many false promises made, speak to your HR Partner or your Manager’s Manager. Make sure you have the chronology of events and sufficient proof to back up everything you say. Seek their advice on how to proceed.

3. Be Conscious of your Job Performance:

Do not let the events with your boss affect your performance. While the promises may not be visible to all, a dip in your performance most certainly will. Maintaining a standard of high performance is proof enough of your commitment to the organisation and may open other doors. It is your bargaining chip and one you have full control over.

Topics: Boss, Boss promise, Boss promise promotion, Boss promise salary increase