Walking On Eggshells

Dear Management Doctor:

Thank you for sharing your advice along with the emails regarding “The Other Side” and “Beside Myself” (click here to read these emails).

I have been attending a few of your webinars and they are very useful and helpful, I only wish my manager in my organization will attend with me for you have great tips and suggestions.

Anyway, I would like some advice on a situation. I am on “The Other Side” for I just recently received a new manager and have been with my organization for 12 years now. Apparently, my new manager has issues/concerns with my overall job and personal performances. I am confused because for the past 12 years my manager at the time was very pleased with my overall job performance and had no concerns or issues during my annual reviews. My previous manager always shared how grateful they were of me and my positive dedication to my organization and job. I feel my new manager is very intimidated by my experience with our organization and also my age for I am older.

My new manager has been trying to get me fired since they started (2 years ago). This seems to be their goal/focus and now has developed into “nit picking.” My new manager has been unsuccessful with developing solid allegations towards me and now is seeking every little thing against me but still coming up empty. My only hope is that our HR manager will see the pattern here and realize that I am really not the one to blame and that this has become personal more than professional.

I seek your advice for I am struggling with keeping a positive professional work ethic between myself and my new manager. I am not ready to throw away 12 years of my dedicated hard work with this organization and I am not going to let someone “run me out of here.” I have gone above and beyond with my new manager but just when things seem to be going smoothly something happens and the blame gets put on me. It is a one-sided situation and my voice doesn’t matter while reasoning with my new manager.

Do you have any suggestions or advice on how I can maintain a positive professional relationship with my new manager? Also, do you have any suggestions or advice on how I can stop my new manager's goal of getting me fired because I don’t want to leave?

Walking on eggshells

Dear Walking,

WOW, a real dilemma. Here are a few thoughts.

  1. Move On
    If you have a choice, I would find another boss or another organization. Transfer to another department for another boss. However, you indicate that that may not be feasible or desirable. Studies show that people join great organizations but leave because of bad bosses.
  2. Undermine the Boss
    You could try to take on your boss or undermine your boss. This is seldom successful and is risky. I took a leave of absence once and ran against the chairman of my Board of Supervisors. When I lost the election, I was fired. My friends reminded me that – when you shoot at the king you had better hit.
  3. Other Employees
    Talk to other employees and see how things are going with them and if they have any suggestions. If an entire group of employees feel the same way, maybe a group meeting with the boss' boss. However, recognize the risk involved.
  4. HR
    Talk again to HR. Don’t add to your complaint but rather ask them for advice. Recognize that a few HR departments are helpful, but many are not.
  5. Prior Manager
    See if your prior manager has any suggestions.
  6. Things Change
    Be careful in comparing your last 12 years with your current situation. You could have had problems and your prior manager was unwilling to address them. Or, jobs and work are changing and the past 12 years may or may not be relevant to the current situation.
  7. Keep a Journal
    Keep good notes and keep documenting your file. You don’t need to tell anyone about this. Just have the file ready for the worst case scenario.
  8. Union
    Are you member of a union? If so get them involved.
  9. Sexist or Racist
    If an issue, this is serious stuff to discuss with HR. Even a law suit could be in order.
  10. Support the SOB
    As hard as it may be, try to understand what your manager wants and be supportive of him or her. This may seem odd, but it could pay off in the long run. In doing this, try to personality type your boss and yourself. This may give you some ideas as to the best way to deal with your boss. Stay aligned with your boss’ objectives rather than focusing on your pet projects.
  11. Mentors
    Seek a mentor and also work with “boss interpreters.” These are people who may know what the boss wants or who could be used to send information to your boss.
  12. Communicate
    Communicate openly, honestly, and frequently. That is, at least most of the time. For some bosses you also need to know when to stay away – i. e. today is not the day for that conversation. Figure out the way your boss likes best to communicate.
  13. Initiative
    Look ahead to problems and be prepared with solutions. Don’t give the boss problems, give him or her solutions. Ask your boss how you can help him or her reach their goals.
  14. Role Model
    Project the highest ethical standards and radiate positive energy. Keep yourself balanced.
  15. Constituency
    Work hard to get a constituency that likes your work and can support you.
  16. Books and Info
    Pull up bad bosses on Google. There are also a few books out on this topic. Try, Lynn Taylor’s book, Tame Your Terrible Office Tyrant (TOT): How to Manage Childish Boss Behavior and Thrive in Your Job, John Wiley and Sons.
  17. Suggestions
    Read the suggestions from our emailers that you are bound to get from this article.
Finally, smile and laugh when you can. Don’t get branded as a trouble-maker/whiner/complainer.

The Management Doctor

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