When Management Fails You

When Management Fails You

The fear of leaving your job and company is daunting.

You heard it, even said it…”I hate my manager!” Frustrated and actively disengaged, you are ready to quit. Your irritation grinds your teammates. It’s getting ugly in your head. You want out.

Is your manager too overbearing (micro-manager) or too laid back? Never available to help? Is he or she quick to spot the wrong things you do and enjoys the confrontation? You wake-up and realize that you are not the only one who feels this way.

I know numerous talented employees who had inadequate bosses. Some managers were absent. Several communicated disrespectfully or delivered self-preserving impossible expectations. There were others who did not support employees, avoided conflict, and/or took forever with decisions. The list goes on. The manger may be the best in discipline, yet, not carry the ideal manager (coach) mantel with employees.

If only managers knew, that their actions (or lack of action) and management style has the most important bearing whether employees stay fully engaged or leave. Gallup has determined that active employee disengagement costs the US economy $450-$550 billion per year!

Bottom line…employees and managers want to do the right thing. People are not perfect.Your manager could be off center with how tasks and responsibilities are being communicated and connected with your job expectations.

What are you to do? 

I offer up four suggestions to help you through the “failing manager” syndrome:

1.    Before rushing to judgment, address the why behind your observations. Write down what your boss does well to help your team. Consider his or her strengths, value and ask, “Why is he or she here to guide our team?” Is there any employee loyalty or a degree of success? Is there something you can learn from working with your boss? Try to see who he or she really is…is it a motivational issue or training issue to their management style?  Is it a seasonal situation (caused by meeting quotas) or a deeper personal issue (that you may not know about)? By doing this, you are properly evaluating the contribution of your manager with your growth and development.

2.    Consider your expectations. Are they linked with what your manager is thinking and saying? If off kilter, consider scheduling a time to talk openly and respectfully to your manager about your frustrations. Clarify performance expectations and opportunities for growth and development with frequent follow-up. Express how you can contribute more of your talent, skills and knowledge in your role. Managers should create a safe place to discuss issues with employees. If expectations are not clear, it is your responsibility to ensure they are fully understood. Worst case scenario, don’t wait until your 12-month peorfmance review to address these issues. That would be bad timing!

3.    Don’t spread gossip. You can prevent adding fuel to this fire. Have integrity and take the high ground. Don’t backdoor the conversation. Don’t posse up on your manager. Discuss directly with your manager and describe what you have seen and heard, how it makes you feel, and the negative impact on performance. It’s not a character assassination but an expression of shared needs in your role. If your manager is not communicating well, be bold (and not arrogant) to share what you need in order to thrive. Then ask for follow-up conversation in about 30-45 days.

4.    Evaluate your options. Quitting may not be the best choice. After sharing with your manager – what you observed and how it influences your performance, there may be another role in the same company you would rather enjoy (or be transferred). If your manger is open, make a suggestion to help (or partner) in an area where there is a lack of managerial talent. You could ask for a mentor at work. Mentors hold confidence, provide company culture information, bring accountability and encouragement when frustration surfaces.

If organizational human resource issues are being violated by your manager, you need to approach your Human Resources representative immediately without the feeling of retribution. Let HR know if abuse, unwarranted attacks, and/or dishonesty occur. Have your facts in order. Many companies post a HR anonymous box for employees when company policies (morals and ethics) are broken (intentionally and unintentionally). If you feel physically, sexually or emotionally threatened by your manager, then a conversation with HR is the first place to start.

If you have done everything possible in your sphere of influence, and you believe that management has failed you (for solid practical reasons) and the company, it may be time to pack it up.

Take a breath, be patient and put your fears away. Give it time and make sure you and your manager are synched up with expectations and understanding of communication styles. We are unique and have certain strengths and character traits that we demonstrate each workday. Don’t throw in the towel because your manager is different and your relationship is mediocre. Study the situation, stabilize your emotions, invest in your own character, start dialoguing with your manager and do the best work that you were called to do.