1. Get to the root of the problem
Many problems come from poor communication. Improve the flow between you and your manager and you’ll be happier and more productive.
The thing is, most managers could be better at communication. But, like all of us, as people they are not always aware they are bad at it! Maybe they believe their expectations and KPIs will ‘trickle down’ without explanation. If it is like this, it‘s difficult to know what you are working towards.
Book a meeting to tell your manager why you are there and what you want to get out of it. If your productivity gets better as a result of this chat, your boss may have learned a valuable lesson about communication.
2. Talk, talk, talk
If you have problems finding time to talk about your concerns informally, or don’t feel comfortable talking in front of colleagues, ask for a meeting.
This is useful if your manager is making unrealistic demands, which is probably happening because they don’t know what you are doing. Explain your workload and the timeframes in place, and ask your manager to help you prioritise your tasks, setting goals, and going over your role.
İlknur Berber, one of the managers of Michael Page Finance division advices not to "assume". According to Berber, many misunderstandings arise from mutual assumptions, build barriers between employees and managers. Berber strongly recommends open communications, instead of assumptions and predictions.
3. Go prepared!
Poor listening skills are often cited as an annoying trait of managers – one way communication is a motivation killer! It is vital that you plan what you are going to say before the meeting.
Make a list of your talking points and edit it as the meeting is going on, so if a thought pops up you won’t miss it. Keeping a list helps to keep track of the conversation, so if you get interrupted you can bring the topic back up.
4. If all else fails…
So, you’ve tried to change your manager, but despite your best efforts, nothing happened. In this case, if you want to stay where you are, you have no choice but to try and change yourself…
David McClelland, a writer on motivation, identified three major drivers in life: affiliation, power and achievement. By watching and mirroring your manager's primary motivator you will start to understand them better. If their driver is achievement, people issues will be a low priority but targets will be key; if the major motivation is affiliation, you need to think in people terms; and in the case of power, be very, careful!
Summary: Keep these points in mind for dealing with difficult managers:
• Scheduling a meeting should always be your first move
• Prepare by knowing what you want to say and make sure you say it
• Find clear and consistent ways to communicate with your manager
• Observe and mirror your manager's primary motivator
• If all else fails, consider alternative options