Do you love or loathe your manager?
This is a really simple question that will determine how you perform at work: How do you feel about your boss?
It’s important to have a manager who you like, respect, and can learn from. Your manager is your #1 supporter, your #1 critic, and your #1 teacher. A great managerial relationship is a promising pathway to promotions, pay increases, and new opportunities.
A bad manager is the opposite: It’s how you can end up disengaged in a dead-end job that harms your mental health.
Are you thinking about your boss? Read on to see if you’re the one with a bad attitude, or if it really is time to start looking for a new job:
Why your manager is the most crucial part of your job
There’s a famous saying—”people don’t work for companies; they work for managers.” And it’s true. There’s a lot that goes into creating the perfect career, but having an excellent supervisor goes a long way.
- 3 out of 4 employees say their manager is the most stressful part of their job
- Lousy leadership makes the average organization 50% as productive as it could be
- 88 percent of companies say they urgently need new leadership
- 65 percent of employees would take a new manager over a pay raise
- 51 percent of managers are not regularly engaged at work, and 14 percent of managers are actually actively disengaged.
You can work for the best company in the world, with the most incredible job opportunities, career growth, and financial opportunities, but if your manager is horrible, nothing else really matters.
You can go far with an excellent manager who mentors you, leads you, gives you new skills, supports you during challenges, and helps your career.
But not every manager is perfect for every employee. So think about what you want from a boss, what you expect from a boss, how to build a good relationship with your boss, and where to look when you’d like to have a better boss.
How to find your preferred management style
Finding your preferred way to be managed isn’t always straightforward. It takes trial and error. That’s one of the reasons that businesses love to hire people with experience: Practice makes perfect.
If you’re a fresh graduate or new to the employment world, you might not recognize that different types of managers even exist. Working odd jobs or in service-industry roles like bartending and retail will typically expose you to the same type of manager over and over again: Someone with a few years more experience than you in your role, but who doesn’t necessarily think strategically about the business as a whole, or have access to tools that can meaningfully affect your career.
Indeed, in some entire industries, management styles are fairly institutionalized: Your managerial relationship might already be controlled by stressed ownership, union requirements, or health and safety regulations.
In more complex “white-collar” professional office environments, managers are typically given more freedom to run their teams as they deem fit. Before you accept a job in this type of business, you should carefully consider who you’ll be working for, and whether you think that relationship will be successful:
- What did you like about your previous managers? Why? Think of specific examples.
- What didn’t you like about your previous managers? Why? Think of specific examples.
- What gives you motivation? What frustrates you? How do you solve problems?
Asking these questions can yield great insights into your preferred style of leadership.
All managers are flawed. Yet while some managers naturally adapt to managing, others are unable to rise to the occasion. Think hard about the management style of your previous managers. How did they treat you & your team? Did it work?
A leader…is like a shepherd. He stays behind the flock, letting the most nimble go out ahead, whereupon the others follow, not realizing that all along they are being directed from behind.
— Nelson Mandela
Do your own research and decide on your preferred management style. Here are some other ways:
- Do some research on team culture: An excellent and often insightful way into an organization’s management style is through employee reviews on websites like LinkedIn and Glassdoor. Of course, you have to take some of these reviews with a pinch of salt, but they’re often very telling.
- Work under different managers: You can read as many books as you want, yet the best way to learn which management style works for you is by working under numerous management styles. Consider working in a variety of roles to gain an insight into management styles and what works for you.
What to do when you don’t like your manager?
So you don’t like your manager? You are not alone. Three out of four employees say their manager is the worst part of their job. But what should you do?
1 – Try to talk to your manager
Talking to your manager could solve the problem (or make it far worse). It depends on the ego and the management qualities of your manager.
Most times, talking to your manager or your manager’s superiors is the right move. Staying quiet can be more destructive than anything else.
2 – Consider the positives
As the law of attraction suggests, life is all about the quality of your thoughts, and staying positive is a healthy option. However, it can be challenging to stay positive if it feels like your manager is out to get you.
Decide if approaching your manager is the right move. If not, stay positive and keep progressing forward. Find another job, or switch careers! You’ll likely find more compassionate managers in industries that are experiencing labor shortages: When employees are hard to find, it becomes more important to keep staff happy!
3 – Be brutally honest with yourself
The ego is one of the most powerful things that we have. Like a double-edged sword, you can use it to succeed or to destroy yourself. So be brutally honest with yourself about your manager and your own performance. Perhaps you’ve played a significant part in the breakdown between you and your manager?
Although some managers are genuinely clueless about leadership, many employees are quick to shed the blame away from themselves. Be honest with yourself and analyze yourself. Are you the problem? If you are, how can you improve yourself?
4 – Use it as fuel to become an incredible manager
Why not make a list of all the things that you think can be improved about how you’ve managed? Become the leader you didn’t have!
The most successful people in the world can turn negativity into positivity. If you want to become a great leader, there’s no better lesson than working under a terrible manager. Take the lemons life has given you, and use them to learn and improve!
Everyone who supervises you plays an important role in your career. Learn what you can from them.
If you have a great boss, use that to your advantage: Maximize your career outcomes, improve your lifestyle, access their network, climb the corporate ladder together, or even get a great reference who can help you take the next professional leap.
But if you’re now realizing that your manager isn’t up to standard, don’t stay in a dead-end job with a bad boss. Exploring new opportunities and find a job with leadership that is growth-oriented, compassionate, honest, and that will help you find success—no matter how you measure it.