Question:

I like everything about my job, except my manager. I love my work and like my coworkers. I’m excited to work for this company, the leader in our industry.

I just don’t respect “Paula.” She’s a phony who manipulates others to get her way. She’s very clever and has a talent for saying the things upper management wants to hear. As a result, Paula’s firmly entrenched in our company. I wish I could transfer to another position in the company and report to a different manager, but my position logically reports to hers.

I’ve tried to put my feelings aside, but it’s difficult. I grit my teeth when Paula enters my office or sends me an email. I loathe how she runs staff meetings and the act she plays when senior managers appear. The only thing that works is to minimize the time I spend in contact with her, but I’m afraid she’ll realize I can’t stand her. Paula puts those she can’t control or who see through her on her s— list and knifes them in the back.

Help.

Answer:

If she’s as clever as you describe, you need to rein in your reactions before Paula decides she wants you off her team.

Start by realizing you can’t change Paula, only yourself. What can you do to control or change your emotional reaction?

Right now, you give Paula a lot of power. All she needs to do is to send you an email, and you react. You remind me of a gorgeous teenage girl with beautiful eyes, a dazzling smile, and a pimple on her chin. The rest of us notice her beauty. She sees the pimple in her mind’s eye and it takes on outsized importance. What if you simply focused on your job duties and doing a stellar job?

Next, 180 your mind-set. What strengths does Paula have? What do others value, respect or appreciate about her? What do they see you don’t? To have landed her position, Paula has skills other than manipulation.

If your mind locks on the idea they’re fooled and you’re not, decide that as a minimum you’ll respect Paula. Respecting her, even if she doesn’t deserve it, says more about you than it does about her.

Finally, if your company’s senior management likes the flavor of Paula’s Koolaid, and you can’t get past the fact that you detest her, leave now. If you wait until Paula realizes you detest her, she may be able to get you fired. Yes, you now work in a great company, however, you can find another great company where you report to a manager you like and respect.

3 thoughts on “When You Can’t Stand Your Boss

  1. Thank you for posting this, Lynne. It is one of the most important pieces of career advice I’ve read in my five decades in the work force and it works both ways. I once had a boss who despised me thoroughly. I was excluded from every promotion available even when I met all criteria for the position. He found every opportunity to demean me in front of others, scream at me and in general make my life miserable. Because he was the boss, he got away with all of it. I would have been much better off had I switched jobs. The same applies to the reverse–if you cannot find a way to work comfortably with a boss you don’t like, leave. Eventually they will figure it out and then it will be you who doesn’t get the promotions and benefits of being a valued team member.

  2. A tough one here, with wise comments from Lynne! Respect your manager–you don’t have to like her, but respect her for her skills and know-how–that was the one that particularly caught my attention and seems like something we could all do. Thanks, as ever, for this.

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