Every working person knows that your direct supervisor sets the tone for your relationship with your job.
If your supervisor is cool, it could be a great job for you even if it isn’t your dream job.
If your supervisor is a jerk, it won’t matter how much you like the work on your desk — you’re probably going to hate the job, anyway.
Your manager is the person who can give you pay raises or keep you stuck at your current pay rate. Your manager can fire you or recommend you for a promotion.
The power your manager holds over you, your employment security and your career path makes your direct boss the most important person in your working life for as long as you have your job.
The unequal power relationship between a manager and their subordinate is one of the most dysfunctional features of traditional employment.
It is ridiculous that new supervisors are promoted with little thought, given little to no training and then put in charge of other people, but it happens every day.
It is not healthy for you to need one person — your manager — to approve of your every move!
Working people can easily begin to shift their words and actions in order to please (or try to please) their boss — and hurt themselves in the process.
A person who feels a lot of pressure to keep a difficult boss happy may not even be aware of the degree to which they bend themselves into pretzel shapes to accommodate their manager.
This is a very bad thing to do – but most of us have done it!
Pay attention the next time you’re having lunch or coffee with your friend and your friend gets a phone call from their boss. The minute your friend starts talking to their boss, their voice changes.
We unconsciously shift our behaviors to match what we think our boss wants to see and hear from us. In the process we give up something very valuable — namely control over our own minds and bodies!
I hope you have a manager who trusts you and whom you can trust. You deserve to work for a manager who doesn’t expect or require you to behave any differently at work than you do anywhere else.
You deserve to work for someone who wants to see the real you at work, not a fake, subservient version of you — but many of us are not that lucky.
One of the biggest problems in the working world is the level of fear in many workplaces. Employees skulk around trying to stay out of trouble rather than having fun solving thorny problems with other smart people.
That is the way work should be — creative, warm and human! Sadly, it is easier to find fear-based workplaces than healthy, trust-based ones.
If you can’t trust your manager, you can’t grow your flame. You can’t speak with your own voice, for fear that your boss won’t like it.
If you are in that situation, it’s time to start thinking about your next career move.
If you aren’t sure whether or not your manager is trustworthy, here are five unmistakable signs they aren’t.
If your manager complains to you about your fellow employees or higher-up managers, they are not trustworthy. Anyone who will gossip to you will just as easily gossip about you.
If your manager is obsessed with “face time” in the workplace and pays close attention to employees’ arrival and departure times, they are not trustworthy. A manager for whom “face time” is more important than actual results is a manager mired in fear, and a person in fear cannot be trusted because their fear will make them do things that a confident person would never do — like throw employees under the bus to save themselves.
If your manager is afraid of higher-up managers, they are not trustworthy. My friend Laura worked for a manager like that. Laura’s manager Denise told her “I’m your biggest supporter, Laura. You let me know what you need, and I’ll go the division VP and get it.” That sounded great, but Laura didn’t believe Denise. Laura said “Denise says all the right things but when she’s under pressure, she becomes a different person. She would stab me in the back in a heartbeat to avoid looking bad with the VP — and I know that because she’s done it before!”
If your manager needs to find someone to blame whenever something goes wrong, they are not worthy of your trust. Many managers have this problem. They cannot handle the pressure of being accountable for their department. When something goes wrong, they must find a scapegoat. They yell at the scapegoat or write them up to get rid of the stress they feel over the mishap. No matter how friendly your manager is when he or she is not experiencing stress, you cannot assume that you can trust them when their stress level increases!
If your boss is obsessed with targets and metrics, you cannot trust them. Yardsticks are only one part of a healthy management structure. Managers who care too much about hitting every goal, every day do not have the backbone to lead through trust. That is the only kind of manager worthy of your talents!
If you cannot trust your manager, don’t panic. You don’t have to start a job search tomorrow, but you can begin to think about what you want and need in a job that you aren’t getting now. You can take your time, and launch a stealth job search when you feel ready.
Your muscles will begin growing the moment you turn your attention away from pleasing your undeserving boss and start focusing on pleasing yourself!
Liz Ryan is CEO/founderofHuman Workplace and author ofReinvention Roadmap. Follow her on Twitterand read Forbescolumns.
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