As most of us already know, a bad boss is a headache and can be the source of misery and frustration at work. But what’s worse than a bad boss? A boss who doesn’t support you.
Here’s why: Bad bosses are blatantly terrible. Whether it’s their lack of constructive feedback, their condescending attitude, or their micromanaging tactics, it’s fairly obvious when you’re working with a bad manager.
But, it’s a lot harder to recognize a boss who doesn’t support your career growth or professional development because those types of conversations typically happen when you’re not in the room.
A boss who doesn’t support you could deny you the chance to work on innovative or high-profile projects and recommend someone else instead. She could exclude you from important client meetings you need to attend to perform your job better. She could, rather than advocate for why you deserve a raise or promotion, give reasons as to why you’re not ready for such change.
A boss who doesn’t support you could also be the reason why you’re still doing the same type of work you were doing three years ago when you started the position, while your colleagues continue to advance.
In the end, an unsupportive boss halts your growth and hinders your potential. So how do you deal with a boss of this caliber? Here are 4 steps to take to navigate the situation, while still maintaining your sanity and peace of mind.
STEP 1: Check yourself.
It could be that your boss isn’t advocating for you or helping you get to the next level because you’re truly not ready yet. It may have nothing to do with your boss secretly hating you and may have everything to do with you. So, before you conclude that your boss is out to stunt your growth, take an in-depth inventory of your work ethic.
What do you bring to the table at work? What contributions have you made as a member of your team and company? What areas have you constantly been told you need to improve, and what steps have you taken to make such improvements? Do you have a clear understanding of your manager’s expectations of you and, more importantly, are you meeting them?
Once you take a clear honest look at your performance at work and can confidently say that you’re killing it and doing everything you can to meet and exceed expectations, then it’s safe to say your boss is the culprit and it’s time to move to the next step.
STEP 2: Exude excellence consistently.
Excellence cannot be denied, and brilliant work is incredibly hard to ignore. So, you must continue to do good work and set a standard for yourself to always exceed expectations.
If you’re not already, become known as the person who always gets things done and who’s ready to tackle new challenges.
When possible, be proactive about identifying new trends, methods, opportunities and processes that will help you do your job better. Even if you’re stuck with mundane menial tasks, how can you make those tasks better? How can you add value to your team, clients, products and even your manager?
At this stage, it’s not about doing good work to gain approval from your manager, it’s about creating a reputation for yourself that speaks for you. When you make it your mantra to exude excellence, you’ll build a track record that others will start to notice.
STEP 3: Find a new support system.
There’s no sense of crying over spilled milk; you cannot convince people to love you, and you shouldn’t have to convince others to support you or advocate for you. So rather than exert anymore energy trying to please your boss, look around your organization and find new allies.
Allies can come in all shapes and forms at work, but the most powerful allies you need in this situation are those who have a voice and influence at the company. When I had a boss who didn’t support me at work, I took it upon myself to build relationships with other executives and senior leaders who could support me and who were willing to bring up my name when it mattered.
Set up lunch meetings to get to know your colleagues better and regularly raise your hand to help other teams and managers tackle problems you know you can solve. When you’re dealing with a boss who doesn’t support you, it’s not enough to just do good work, you must also make sure that there are other people in your corner who can vouch for the good work you do.
STEP 4: Prepare your exit.
Exuding excellence and cultivating a new support system at work are both great ways to deal with a boss who doesn’t support you. They may be the only strategies you need to overcome the dynamics between you and your boss, especially when you love what you do and where you work.
However, if your situation with your boss is keeping you stagnant in your career or affecting other areas of your life, including your self-esteem, health or happiness, it’s not worth it. At the end of the day, you don’t have to settle for working with a boss who doesn’t want to see you progress or succeed.
There are many more companies and bosses who would be happy to have you on their team, and it’s in your best interest to find them sooner, rather than later.
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