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Managing your boss
June 30, 2012 9:10 AM   Subscribe

Managing your boss or her expectations

I recently started a contract position. In the initial phone interview with the manager, I wasnt too impressed and felt that the interview didn't go well. To my surprise I was invited to meet the team and then selected for the job. I had conveyed my initial impressions about the manager to my recruiter. Fast forward to this week, my impressions were confirmed. Although not a complete loss, she does have a condescending attitude and tends to micro manage like crazy. Everything that I say is met with a rebuff. One theory that I have is that my qualifications are way over hers (our title and job duties are the same) and she is threatened a bit by me. I finally snapped at her and the next day she was a bit better. It could also be that she is looking for a replacement which is fine but I am just curious about some things here.

Some questions-

Why would someone hire you if the phone interview didn't go that well?
Why would someone be short/rude/condescending right from day one (I have had no spats with her, frankly not even enough interaction to do so)
How do you handle a boss who is almost your peer (same title, same background or less, who micro manages and is rude to you from day one)
How do I guage if this is just me or she is the same with others. I havent seen that behavior for others in her but the rest of the team is far away from where I sit.
I believe she has never managed anyone before, what do you think I should do in this case?
I could leave anytime as my qualifications are highly transferable but I love this work and want to complete the 6 months I am there.

Would love your thoughts and experience in such a case. Like I mentioned.

Thank you
posted by pakora1 to Work & Money (6 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
This person isn't your boss, she's your client.

In situations like this, where the environment and people leave something to be desired but the work is interesting or otherwise fulfilling, it's best to just repeat to yourself, "I don't work here. I am a consultant."

As with most contract gigs, if she knew what she was doing, you wouldn't be there. Just do your job and hope the next place is better. If it gets unbearable, bring it up with your recruiter first. (They have your back, right?) If the situation doesn't improve after that tell her exactly what I suggested you tell yourself. Gently at first. More forcefully as the situation warrants.
posted by ob1quixote at 9:46 AM on June 30, 2012 [3 favorites]


I have found that it is hard to figure out sometimes whether or not an interview went well. I changed jobs about a year and a half ago -- I thought the phone screen with the hiring manager didn't go well and that I wouldn't be called back. Not only was I called back, I was made an offer, and when my boss resigned a year later, he recommended me to take his position.

The more you can re-frame your own thinking, I think the more successful you are going to be. For instance, micro-managing is one way of describing behavior. Another way is conscientious and careful. If you think of your boss as micro-managing you, you are likely to be resentful and that is likely to come out in your interactions in subtle yet non-productive ways.

I googled "managing up" and found all sorts of useful advice -- including managing a difficult boss. I suggest perhaps looking around at some of the advice out there and see if it can be applied.

I've had good bosses and a few really bad ones. Many of the good bosses, I didn't initially like working for -- it took a while for me to adjust to their style. I would suggest giving it a while, trying to reframe your thinking, looking for the positive intention behind your boss's behavior, trying to anticipate what your boss will want, and then if in a couple of months things still aren't working for you, you are on contract and can walk away. But, you might be able to form a good relationship with this boss, finish the contract, and add to your life experience in the process.
posted by elmay at 10:36 AM on June 30, 2012


Why would someone be short/rude/condescending right from day one

Some people have different personalities and different experiences. I treat my new "employees" at a much lower level than I did before because previous "employees" complained they hadn't been trained properly. Now I approach new people as though they don't know anything.

Also, in regards to short, I don't like beating around the bush in the job. He's the job - can you do it or not? If not, why? It's how I do my job.

How do you handle a boss who is almost your peer

You stop trying to "handle" your boss. If she's your boss, you need to recognize your boss and step back. If you don't like that she micromanages, fine - do what you need to do in a professional and level-appropriate way. But don't try to rationalize it by saying that she's "threatened". My boss micromanages like hell and doesn't even have the same level of qualifications as me. It's frustrating as hell, but she's my boss and that's the end of the story.

How do I guage if this is just me or she is the same with others.

Why do you need to do this? Either you enjoy the position or you don't. If the position is that untenable, leave.

I believe she has never managed anyone before, what do you think I should do in this case?

What do you base this on? Has she told you she's never managed anyone before? Or do you assume that since you and she aren't meshing that she's inadequate.

I could leave anytime as my qualifications are highly transferable but I love this work and want to complete the 6 months I am there.


You haven't even been there six months?!

I would say suck it up. Learn how to work for a different personality than one you might be used to. Stop taking it as a personal affront or a character defect of your boss that she doesn't work the way you want her to.
If she actually violates working conditions - harasses you, forced overtime, etc., then I would leave or seek legal action, but imo this is all reading like you think you're better than your boss, and you expect her to recognize her inferiority and let you take the reigns. If this is what I've gotten in two paragraphs, I do wonder what she's picked up in daily work with you.

You seem to be the one making this a problematic work environment - I would honestly recommend you shape up or ship out.
posted by Lt. Bunny Wigglesworth at 11:35 AM on June 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


Why would someone hire you if the phone interview didn't go that well?
Was it an especially demanding interview? Perhaps she is the sort to ask really hard questions, and then choose the candidate who responds the best under pressure - you would feel you had done badly, but you might still have done better than the other candidates.

Why would someone be short/rude/condescending right from day one (I have had no spats with her, frankly not even enough interaction to do so)
I wonder if she is someone who has gotten in to bad habits at work, and/or has a generally abrasive personality and poor social skills?

How do you handle a boss who is almost your peer (same title, same background or less, who micro manages and is rude to you from day one)
I've never had to do this, but I'd guess you would probably have to tolerate the micromanaging whilst she establishes her authority over you; just treat her with respect and give her a fair chance.

How do I guage if this is just me or she is the same with others. I havent seen that behavior for others in her but the rest of the team is far away from where I sit.
If she is difficult, I would assume that those who have stuck around do so because they have figured out how to get on her good side, or because she has taken a liking to them. Maybe a better question to ask would be "How often have others left to get away from this job/manager?"

I believe she has never managed anyone before, what do you think I should do in this case?
I think it is possible that you are the first, or that if she is bad at managing, that it seems like you are the first person she's had to manage. I think given six months is so short I'd really try to soak it up and stay there. Probably if you can get to know the rest of the team they will give you more info and can help you if she does turn out to be a bad manager.
posted by EatMyHat at 7:41 AM on July 1, 2012


I am in almost the exact same situation as you . I asked this question when I first started this gig.

I wish I could give you more hope, but a few months in, things haven't gotten any better. The only thing that worked for me temporarily was just giving in, letting her have total control and not taking any initiative at all. We got along great for about of month of this, then guess what? Her supervisor noticed the work we'd been doing (completely under the auspices of my "careful and conscientious" coworker/pseudo-boss) was subpar during this period , and of course pseudoboss blamed it all on me. Basically she wanted to boss me around yet not have to take any responsibility for the results.

But, if your boss doesn't seem to be a slacker, you might try the "giving in" route but make sure you absolutely trust her to have her shit together and be willing to take responsibility as a manager.

Otherwise, I'm glad you love your work, because it might help to make your job less miserable. Try not to let her get to you and don't be afraid to push back and let her know how you will and will not allow yourself to be treated. For me, basic respect and politeness towards one's coworkers should be non-negotiable. Sadly, not everyone agrees.
posted by Jess the Mess at 8:29 AM on July 2, 2012


Quick update and thanks

I left the job which was the right thing to do. Life is too short to live in a toxic environment and no job is worth killing yourself with stress. I already had 3 interviews this week (the week i left) and have in person interviews next week.

And no, sucking up and continuing is not the way I would like to suffer in my life. MY learning was that it takes courage but you need to stand up to people like this (long story that happened when i did) suffice to say it was great

Thanks all!
posted by pakora1 at 5:47 PM on July 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


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