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How to manage your manager: 10 tips to survive a difficult manager ๐Ÿง‘โ€๐Ÿ’ผ

How to manage your manager

How to manage your manager: 10 tips to survive a difficult manager –

Introduction ๐Ÿ‘‹

The saying goes that “people don’t leave bad jobs – they leave bad managers”, and it couldn’t be more true.

Research has found that 57% of people have left at least one job because of a bad manager!

Your manager can have a huge impact on your:

  • wellbeing at work ๐Ÿง 
  • career progression ๐Ÿชœ
  • stress levels ๐Ÿฅด
  • feeling of accomplishment ๐Ÿ†
  • relationships at work ๐Ÿค
  • pay ๐Ÿ’ธ
  • ability to learn at work ๐Ÿซ
  • workload ๐Ÿ‹๏ธโ€โ™€๏ธ

This makes it really important to:

  • have a great relationship with your manager ๐Ÿค
  • understand your manager ๐Ÿซก
  • know how to raise problems with managers ๐Ÿ™‹โ€โ™€๏ธ
  • know how to give your manager feedback to help them improve ๐Ÿ”Š

Here are our top tips for surviving a difficult manager!

Tips 1-6: Look after yourself โœจ

1. Set boundaries ๐Ÿงฑ

A really important part of surviving a difficult manager is to make sure that you’ve got boundaries in place.

As we know – managers aren’t perfect, and can often overstep boundaries which could negatively impact your wellbeing. ๐Ÿ‘ฃ

Read your contract ๐Ÿ“œ

Employment contracts can be really useful because they set boundaries for both you and your employer. ๐Ÿงฑ

They should cover things like:

  • When your contract starts
  • When the contract is expected to end
  • Your job title
  • Where you will work
  • When you will work
  • Pay โ€“ how often and when
  • How many holidays you’ll be allowed to take
  • Any other job perks you might get e.g. free parking
  • The name and address of you and your new employer
  • What happens when you’re off work due to illness

You can use your contract to push back on your manager, if they ask you to do something outside of what has already been agreed in your contract. โœ‹

If your employer doesn’t live up to what they’ve agreed to in the contract, you could:

  • raise a complaint against them
  • make a claim against them at an “employment tribunal” for not following the contract terms e.g. if you’ve been underpaid

Know your job description ๐Ÿ“

Most workplaces will give you a “job description” that outlines your responsibilities at work. These can be great to help you to:

  • know your expected workload
  • understand what tasks you’re responsible for
  • feel confident that you can push back when you’re regularly being asked to do work outside of your job description

Read your workplace’s policies ๐Ÿ“–

Workplaces usually have sets of rules for everyone to follow called “policies”.

These rules can be another great way to keep boundaries at work, by giving you a way to push back if your manager asks you to work outside the agreed rules for your workplace.

Workplace policies can cover a huge variety of topics, such as:

  • protecting your personal information
  • “code of conduct” – how you should behave
  • mobile phone rules
  • car parking rules
  • health and safety

Rules included within policies can either be there to:

  • give you guidance
  • be a contractual term that you can get into trouble for not following e.g. they might try and end your contract if you don’t follow them

Make sure you know which policies are guidance, and which are contractual!

Know your legal rights โœ…

Outside of employment contracts, job descriptions, and workplace policies, there are also laws in place that help create boundaries for you at work. ๐Ÿ‘ฉโ€โš–๏ธ

Make sure you know what they are, so you can push back if your manager doesn’t uphold your legal rights. โœ‹

Your legal rights will be different depending on where you live, but they could include things like:

  • receiving “written terms” outlining your job rights and responsibilities โœ๏ธ
  • getting paid “National Minimum Wage” or higher ๐Ÿ’ธ
  • receiving paid holiday days off work ๐Ÿ–๏ธ
  • getting sent regular payslips – How do payslips work? ๐Ÿงพ
  • not being treated unfairly if you work part time โŒš

Take your rest breaks ๐Ÿ˜ด

Rest breaks are a really important part of looking after your wellbeing. ๐Ÿ’–

When you’re at work, you might be tempted to work during all your breaks to impress your manager (or because they’ve pressured you to!)

The problem is – when you regularly work during breaks, it sets the expectation for your manager that they can ask you to work when you’re supposed to be resting. ๐Ÿ˜

Take your rest breaks to look after your wellbeing, and to keep boundaries at work.

Leave work on time โŒš

Unless you’re going to get paid agreed “overtime”, it’s unlikely that you’re going to get paid for working outside your contracted hours. ๐Ÿ’ธ

Working outside your hours (for free!) also takes you away from:

  • rest
  • time with family and friends
  • personal development outside your work
  • time for self-care
  • making money outside of work
  • hobbies

These are all things that could really help your wellbeing.

On top of this, when you regularly work outside your contracted hours for free, it sets the expectation for your manager that they can ask you to work outside your hours. ๐Ÿ˜

Leave work on time to look after your wellbeing, and to keep boundaries at work.

Don’t overshare ๐Ÿคซ

At work you tend to want your amazing work to be the focus, not your personal life.

Often oversharing can distract from the amazing work that you’re doing, and potentially:

  • make people forget your achievements
  • create drama with colleagues
  • encourage managers to cross boundaries with you
  • give your manager reasons to question your work quality
  • make people lose respect for you because you’ve overshared

Different workplaces have different cultures and team dynamics, where some might be more comfortable with you sharing information about your personal life more than others.

It’s really important to control how much personal information you share at your workplace, to create boundaries at work.

2. Try to keep your emotions in check ๐Ÿฅน

Unfortunately, getting emotional at work is still often a tricky topic. ๐Ÿ˜ฌ

There is still a lot of expectation for you to control your emotions at work, and if you don’t, it could:

  • Make people think badly of you ๐Ÿ‘Ž
  • Give the organisation a reason to fire you e.g. if you show intimidating behaviour ๐Ÿ‘‹
  • Ruin your reputation ๐Ÿ˜ณ
  • Lose other people’s respect ๐Ÿ˜•
  • Create uncomfortable situations ๐Ÿ˜ฅ

Aim to:

  • be calm and composed ๐Ÿง˜โ€โ™€๏ธ
  • make rational decisions
  • be professional ๐Ÿ‘ฉโ€๐Ÿ’ผ
  • speak kindly at all times
  • avoid getting overwhelmed – people should be able to cry at work, but unfortunately it can be looked down upon ๐Ÿ˜ฅ
  • take a breather when emotions creep in
  • step out of meetings when emotions are high ๐Ÿšช
  • prepare what you want to say in advance – especially in emotionally heightened situations
  • avoid physical outbursts e.g. shouting, slamming doors, visible anger ๐Ÿคฌ

3. Stay positive โ˜€๏ธ

You might absolutely hate your manager, but showing it by being miserable around them is unlikely to help your situation.

When you feel like being blunt or rude towards your manager, it’s important to remember that they can have a huge impact on your:

  • Career prospects
  • Pay arrangements
  • Acting as a reference for your next job
  • Training

So – try to stay positive.

People like positive people! โœจ

You can:

  • Make them feel like you’re genuinely happy to see them
  • Value their opinion
  • See them as important
  • Respect them
  • Celebrate achievements together

4. Don’t talk badly about your manager behind their back ๐Ÿคซ

When you’re struggling with your relationship with your manager, it can be really tempting to let off steam with your colleagues and complain about them. ๐Ÿคฌ

Unfortunately, this might not help you in the long term, and can lead to difficult consequences like:

  • Your manager finding out what you’ve said ๐Ÿ˜ณ
  • You being viewed as a gossiper or unprofessional ๐Ÿคซ
  • People thinking that you can’t keep your emotions in check ๐Ÿ˜ญ
  • Losing trust from your colleagues ๐Ÿ˜ฌ

I mean, you wouldn’t want your manager speaking badly about you behind your back either, would you? ๐Ÿคทโ€โ™€๏ธ

5. Prioritize your wellbeing ๐Ÿ’–

Handling a difficult relationship with your manager can be extremely stressful, and very often feel:

  • frustrating
  • overwhelming
  • hopeless
  • stressful
  • anxious
  • tense
  • uncontrollable

So make sure to look after yourself during this difficult time. ๐Ÿ’–

73 self-care ideas ๐Ÿ›€

To help your wellbeing, you can do things like:

  • Get plenty of rest
  • Give yourself positive and exciting things to do outside of work
  • Build meaningful relationships outside of work
  • Make your home life as stress-free as possible

Ultimately, if your relationship with your manager is having a significant impact on your mental health and you can’t see ways to improve it, it might be worth considering options like:

  • speaking to human resources about your struggles at work
  • talking to a union representative
  • looking at/applying for other jobs
  • resigning from your job
  • reducing your work hours

Not only does prioritizing your wellbeing help you survive your difficult manager– it can also help improve your relationship with them.

Managers generally want you to be as self-sufficient as possible, which includes looking after your wellbeing.

Managers generally won’t be happy if you:

  • feel burned out
  • don’t take breaks and complain about it
  • get them into trouble because you’re too stressed
  • become unproductive because you’re burned out
  • work late and let it impact your wellbeing

6. Deliver good work ๐Ÿƒโ€โ™€๏ธ

It’s difficult to discipline someone who’s delivering great work for the organisation.๐Ÿ’ƒ

No matter how many problems you might have with your relationship, it’s important to deliver good work.

If you’re delivering good work, it meets your job’s objectives and what you’re paid to do. โœ…

Your manager can’t exactly get you in trouble if you’re:

  • doing everything you’re supposed to according to your job description
  • behaving in the way the organisation expects you to

Also, if you’re delivering good work, your manager should be happier! ๐Ÿ™Œ

Tips 7 – 10: Make your manager happy โœจ

7. Try to understand their perspective ๐Ÿ•ต๏ธโ€โ™€๏ธ

At the end of the day, managers are just normal people with their own:

  • flaws ๐Ÿ˜ฌ
  • insecurities ๐Ÿฅน
  • goals ๐Ÿ†
  • challenges ๐Ÿšตโ€โ™€๏ธ
  • personal lives ๐Ÿก
  • family problems ๐Ÿ‘ช
  • health issues ๐Ÿ‘ฉโ€โš•๏ธ
  • stress ๐Ÿ˜ข
  • manager problems ๐Ÿ‘ฉโ€๐Ÿ’ผ
  • relationship issues ๐Ÿ’”

Your relationship is just one small part of their big life – and it’s important to remember that no matter how important, formal, or serious they might seem, they’re still humans.

Managers don’t know everything, and they’ll never be perfect. ๐Ÿคทโ€โ™€๏ธ

In order to have a great relationship with your manager, you should do the same thing that you do with anyone else – learn about them and their perspective.

How they like to be communicated with ๐Ÿ”Š

A lot of relationship issues come about from miscommunication and misunderstandings. This could be things like:

  • Them coming across in the wrong way e.g. rude, aggressive, when they don’t mean to
  • Misunderstanding instructions
  • Not putting things in writing to make it “official”
  • Different people being told different things
  • Misinterpreting written communication e.g. them sounding blunt when they don’t mean to

Whilst communication issues can be really frustrating, it’s important to not take them personally. ๐Ÿ’”

A lot of the time, managers:

  • Have good intentions ๐Ÿ’–
  • Want you to be happy ! ๐Ÿ™‚ (it’d make their life easier!)
  • Don’t hate you, or are out to get you ๐Ÿ˜Š
  • Think they’re doing a great job ๐Ÿ‘‘
  • Don’t mean to offend or upset people ๐Ÿคฆโ€โ™€๏ธ
  • Feel like they need to act “managerial” to be respected ๐Ÿ‘ฉโ€๐Ÿ’ผ
  • Haven’t been given a lot of training on how to be a manager and look after others ๐Ÿ‘ฉโ€๐Ÿซ
  • Make mistakes ๐Ÿคทโ€โ™€๏ธ

So with this in mind, sometimes you have to take the lead on improving communication, to make the relationship work.

It’s important to understand:

  • The ways they prefer to communicate
  • The ways that they want you to communicate to them

In order to do this, you could:

  • Ask your manager about how they prefer communication to work at work ๐ŸŽค
  • Pay close attention to when your manager is happy – what communication did they respond best towards? ๐Ÿ˜
  • Pay close attention to when your manager is unhappy – what communication did they respond badly towards? ๐Ÿ˜ 
  • Ask others how they think your manager would prefer you to communicate ๐Ÿง‘โ€๐Ÿคโ€๐Ÿง‘

Make them feel listened to ๐Ÿ‘‚

Just like normal humans, managers tend to love talking, feeling important, and feeling listened to. ๐Ÿคฉ

To make sure that your manager feels like you’re listening, you can do things like:

  • Repeat back to them what they’ve said ๐Ÿ”
  • Write notes on what they say โœ๏ธ
  • Thank them for their advice – recognise when they’ve helped you ๐Ÿ™
  • Welcome their feedback, even if you don’t plan on making changes as a result ๐Ÿฅณ
  • Ask them about themselves ๐ŸŽ™๏ธ
  • Leave space in conversations for your manager to talk about themselves ๐Ÿ‘‚
  • Let your manager speak more than you do in conversations ๐Ÿ—ฃ๏ธ
  • Ask for their opinion on things (but not in a way where it sounds like you don’t know what you’re doing!) ๐Ÿค”

133 ways to make someone feel special ๐Ÿ’–

Your manager’s goals ๐Ÿ†

Every manager has their own goals.

Whether it’s:

  • Career goals – getting a promotion, a bonus, or a pay rise ๐Ÿ’ธ
  • Impressing their boss by being good at their job ๐Ÿ˜
  • Team goals – wanting achievements for their team ๐Ÿง‘โ€๐Ÿคโ€๐Ÿง‘
  • Personal goals – supporting their family, paying for holidays ๐Ÿ‘ช
  • Getting as much productivity/work from the team as possible ๐Ÿ’ช

Understanding your manager’s goals can go a long way to improving your relationship with them. ๐Ÿชœ

The more you support your manager towards reaching their goals, the more they will feel:

  • supported
  • understood
  • respected
  • valued
  • successful

These are all things that can go a long way to make a great relationship.

Their biggest challenges ๐Ÿฅด

Managers LOVE it when you help them to solve their problems. ๐Ÿคฉ

So – find out what they are!

You could even make it part of your regular conversations with you manager and ask them what their biggest challenges are, and how you can help solve them.

Their pet peeves/triggers ๐Ÿ˜ฌ

As normal human beings, managers have their own pet peeves that annoy them day-to-day.

Make sure you know what they are, to avoid accidentally triggering your manager! ๐Ÿงจ

How they want you to behave ๐Ÿ˜‡

If you were a manager, what would you want your team to behave like?

If you behave in the professional ways that your manager wants you to, your relationship is likely to be much more comfortable.

Some of the top qualities managers look for are:

  • Accountability – you take responsibility for your work and mistakes
  • Good interpersonal skills – you’re a great listener, and communicate well
  • Resourceful – you have the having the ability to find quick and clever ways to overcome problems.
  • Open to sharing ideas
  • Motivated
  • Self-aware
  • Action-oriented
  • Honest

8. Try to always bring them solutions, not problems โœ…

Some key mistakes that people fall into with their managers is:

  • Complaining a lot ๐Ÿ™„
  • Expecting managers to solve their problems ๐Ÿง™โ€โ™‚๏ธ
  • Not taking responsibility for your problems ๐Ÿคทโ€โ™€๏ธ
  • Emotionally offloading onto your manager ๐Ÿคฌ
  • Highlighting problems instead of giving clear requests to fix them ๐Ÿ‘Ž

Doing these things might give your manager the impression that you’re:

  • Not good at taking accountability for problems ๐Ÿ‘ถ
  • Bad at being proactive or action-oriented ๐Ÿ˜ด
  • Not very self-aware ๐Ÿชž

People only bringing problems to the table (and not solutions) can be one of the biggest frustrations for managers. Image what it’s like hearing to people complaining all day! ๐Ÿคช

So – whenever you speak to your manager, rather than bringing them problems, try to bring them:

  • ideas for improvements ๐Ÿ’ก
  • positive news of how you’ve solved a problem or fixed something ๐Ÿ“ฐ
  • permission requests for you to make an improvement โœ…

If you have to bring them a problem (and you don’t have a solution!), make sure to:

  • demonstrate that you’ve tried to think of solutions ๐Ÿง 
  • acknowledge that you haven’t found a solution ๐Ÿคทโ€โ™€๏ธ
  • make your manager feel important, by asking for their advice ๐ŸŒŸ

9. Keep it short, get to the point ๐ŸŽฏ

Most people hate waffling, and managers are no exception! ๐Ÿง‡

A lot of managers can get frustrated if you waffle and struggle to get to the point. ๐Ÿ˜ 

To keep your manager happy, you could:

  • write notes before meetings with your manager, to prepare what you’re going to say in advance โœ๏ธ
  • keep emails short and straight to the point – use bullet points, and short sentences ๐Ÿค
  • only talk about things if you think it will be important to your manager or impact them โš ๏ธ

10. Be proactive – think ahead ๐Ÿ”ฎ

One of the best ways to manage managers who:

  • give you lots of requests/additional tasks ๐Ÿ“œ
  • get annoyed when you’re not prepared ๐Ÿ˜ 
  • won’t leave you alone ๐Ÿ™‹โ€โ™€๏ธ
  • make you uncomfortable – so you want more space from them ๐Ÿ˜ฌ

is to be proactive, and anticipate their needs in advance.

The more you anticipate their needs and solve them, the more space they should hopefully give you, to get on with your job!

This can involve doing things like:

  • writing preparation notes before your 121 catch up meetings with your manager โœ๏ธ
  • proactively asking your manager what they need help with ๐Ÿคทโ€โ™€๏ธ
  • thinking ahead – looking at upcoming events at work, anticipating problems ๐Ÿค”
  • tracking your performance against targets and making the information readily available ๐Ÿ•ต๏ธโ€โ™€๏ธ

Conclusion ๐Ÿ‘

So that’s it!

To survive a difficult manager, you should:

Look after yourself โœจ

  • Set boundaries๐Ÿงฑ
  • Try to keep your emotions in check๐Ÿฅน
  • Stay positiveโ˜€๏ธ
  • Donโ€™t talk badly about your manager behind their back๐Ÿคซ
  • Prioritize your wellbeing๐Ÿ’–
  • Deliver good work๐Ÿƒโ€โ™€๏ธ

Make your manager happy โœจ

  • Try to understand their perspective๐Ÿ•ต๏ธโ€โ™€๏ธ
  • Try to always bring them solutions, not problemsโœ…
  • Keep it short, get to the point๐ŸŽฏ
  • Be proactive โ€“ think ahead๐Ÿ”ฎ

Hopefully this article has helped you to feel more confident about managing a difficult manager.

If you know any friends or family members who might benefit from learning about how to manage your manager, share this post with them!

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