Work stress abounds in today’s modern, overworked, emails-always-dinging, fast paced, dual career households. I spend a lot of time working with clients and even listening to friends talk about work difficulties.
Sometimes it’s hard to tell if your boss likes you. After all, chances are they’re somewhat savvy on employment laws or company policies that most likely prevent them from stating straight away that they don’t like you or the cat pictures in your office. So, there are subtleties you pick up on. You feel that something is off but make up excuses for the behavior or other observations you make. You may think it doesn’t matter if your boss dislikes you - in some cases maybe it won’t, but in many it absolutely does. A poor relationship with the boss often means extra stress, lower productivity, and living life waiting for the ax to drop on your position. That’s a lot of pressure!
Here’s my list of top 3 signs your boss may not be so into you and it may be time to start the hunt:
Once you got your list of tasks and took care of them with no big problems. Now, your supervisor finds the tiniest of problems with your process or your product and makes sure to tell you about them every chance he gets. Micromanagement is an indicator of poor trust. Your boss has simply started to feel like you can’t perform even simple jobs on your own. Your boss may think this will curb any mistakes, but it will most likely cut into your productivity, increase your work related stress, ruin your mood, and therefore the office mood, and may even result in increased sick time.
Inaccessibility. This is like micromanagement but at the opposite end of the spectrum. It’s difficult to get time with your boss to ask important questions or get feedback. Your boss gives you a time to arrive to talk and your accidental arrival 1 or 2 minutes early or late becomes the only topic of conversation. During your meetings your supervisor is checking their cell phone or texting while you’re in the room. Your appointed times for discussion are the only discussion you have, but coworkers seem to have immediate access even outside scheduled meetings. If everyone but you seems to have ready and easy access, the problem is most likely one your boss has with you.
Withholding/Excluding. You walk into your weekly meeting to find a new face. Someone has been hired or is interning and you’re just now finding out about the addition to the team, while everyone else seems to have been anticipating it. You’re typing away when you notice everyone but you is marching down the hall at 9a.m. You follow and find there was a teleconference you didn’t get an invite for.
Handling these things can be difficult. It’s your job. You do enjoy eating, driving, having a home, and the other things that working affords you. Remember to be relaxed and non-confrontational with your supervisor when communicating. Ask your boss how you can increase trust in your working relationship and be open about it. If you need more face time ask for it and give your supervisor time to make the change to their availability to you. If you’re lacking information talk with your boss about your need for information and explain having the info helps you perform better and contribute more fully to the team. Sometimes communication really does help! Other times it's obvious that you're in a position where you're darned if you do or if you don't. If none of that works, follow your HR policy for dispute resolutions and hang on to your hat - or jump ship if that’s an option.
If your workplace stress is causing you loss of sleep, weight gain or loss, irritability with family or friends, less time with friends and other supportive people, you’re spending every spare minute in your office on Indeed.com, you’re crying when you get home from work at night, you dream about work repeatedly, you can’t stop replaying mistakes you made, or conversations that you had with your supervisor that upset you, and you have trouble not venting these things to any poor soul that will listen, you’re having feelings of being trapped or are otherwise concerned for how you’re handling work and supervisor related stress - it’s probably time to prepare to leave (and not just in the looking for jobs in Puerto Rico on your lunch break kind of way).
It’s one thing when a boss just isn’t that into you. It’s another when there’s abuse in the workplace, which does happen.
Something I see in my work is that people who are working under supervisors that tend toward the abusive are often like spouses and children who have been abused. They will remain in situations that are terrible for fear of what an outcry may cost - it may cost you a financial setback, a long job hunt, borrowing money from family, sleeping on your mom’s couch, getting a cheaper house/car, changing spending habits and social fallout. (I’m from a generation and set of parents that taught me you don’t quit a job unless you have a new one to go to, by gosh!). They often make excuses for their boss, particularly in the early days. Maybe it was my fault for not listening, maybe I am just a bad person; my boss is just stressed out. They dive in and try harder, bearing all responsibility for the tension, and end up right back at square one. Abuse in the workplace is a real thing, so listen to your instincts about what is happening. It’s normal to have some bumps in the road in all relationships, even at work. If it becomes too much, make a plan for action.
Remember: it’s a job, not a jail!