“My vice-president is hard to work with,” a manager said to me.
“Do others feel the same way?” I asked.
“Yes, there is general frustration.”
“Exactly, what does the vice president do that causes stress?”
“His meetings last way too long and we still do not agree on what we need to do. He sometimes gives different messages to our staff members than to us. When someone brings up an issue, he listens. Then he joins others in identifying why it is an issue, but we do not identify a solution.”
When experiencing noisome relations with someone (including your boss), it is necessary to communicate honestly with the person. But communication with another about a troubling behavior is akin to walking on tacks.
Pick one, and only one, issue and avoid any mention of what you think the boss may be doing wrong. Rather, begin with something like, “I think we may be missing some opportunities here. During our meetings, how about I list the options being discussed? At some point, I can summarize the ideas and see if we can get support for one of them.”
Don’t expect an immediate miracle turnaround. Be patient, stay the course, and look for small improvements.
“In thirteen years, I’ve worked for two companies,” Albertson said. “Managers tell me that I’m a conscientious employee, and I’ve had very good performance reviews in all of my jobs.”
“Why did you leave the first company?” I asked.
“I was there six years. I liked the work and I had opportunities for advancement. I got a new manager in my third year and our relationship was shoddy. He was a good person but always hovered over my work and was quick to second-guess any initiative I might take.”
Albertson continued to explain that his manager had very little experience in the tasks that he performed and tended to micromanage. Albertson described his manager as a negative person and was not always clear about what he expected.
Eventually, Albertson left for a job in another company at lower pay. Albertson has remained with the second company for seven years. He likes the work and has been promoted. Albertson says his current manager cares about him and is very clear about expectations.
Gallup polls show that seventy-five percent of employees who voluntarily leave their company do so because of poor relationships with bosses. Employees join companies but they leave bosses.