Magazine article Management Today

First-Class Coach

Magazine article Management Today

First-Class Coach

Article excerpt

Q. Although I know I do a good job, my boss never speaks to me except when she wants something done.

I've asked for training but never got any and, although I'm better qualified academically than some of my colleagues, in three years I haven't been promoted. I feel our relationship is at breaking point. What shall I do?

A. It's very dispiriting when it appears that, despite your best efforts, you are being overlooked in favour of other, less competent people. It's easy to descend into victim mode, which increases your sense of helplessness and can reduce your ability to change the situation. So your first step is to try and establish whether you are genuinely being singled out for mistreatment or if your boss tends to be this way with everyone except a small group of favourites.

If you stand back and examine her behaviour, you may discover that she belongs to the group of managers who prefer to keep workplace contact to professional transactions. I have worked with clients who have alienated their team members because they haven't understood the importance of a degree of social interaction in motivating and creating loyalty in their staff.

They tend to be very task-focused and are often disappointed to find that issuing orders without engaging their staff doesn't tend to produce the results they expect. As they come to understand that others can require a greater degree of personal contact than they do, they are pleased to discover that paying even a small amount of attention to individuals can have a marked, positive effect on productivity. They will never want to engage in chitchat, but they can show appreciation and lend an ear when required.

Of course, it is possible that your boss harbours some resentment towards you as an individual, if not for something you have done then perhaps for something you represent. For example, you mention your academic qualifications - is your boss similarly qualified? If not, she may resent this and be inclined to think you feel superior to your colleagues.

Another dynamic may be that, as you become increasingly disenchanted with how you are being treated, you may radiate hostility towards your boss, which in turn will tend to reinforce whatever negative feelings she has about you. One effective way of breaking this cycle is to consider what she does well and what value she brings to the organisation. …

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