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3 Tips to Working With a Difficult Manager

Find us someone who says they’ve never had to work with a difficult manager, and we’ll show you someone who hasn’t spent enough time in the workforce. One of the most difficult challenges to being happy and productive on the job can be working for a difficult person. Sometimes they’re micromanagers. Sometimes they are never happy with their employees’ output. Sometimes they are just difficult personalities. Having a difficult manager is sometimes outside of your control. But there are certain things that you can do to make working with them easier. Here are our tips to help smooth the road.


1.) Get Your Assignments and Their Expectations in Writing

One of the most difficult challenges of working with a difficult manager may be rapidly changing and uncommunicated expectations. Or the assignment seems to constantly be changing. Asking to have those communications delivered in writing when possible, helps protect you as an employee when the project scope seems to change faster than you can keep up. When you have it all in writing, you can return to that written assignment with your manager and discuss openly how and why the scope has changed. That level of accountability is something that can be a helpful tool to keep your manager honest and organized, and if the problem worsens, you have documentation of the changing needs that you can refer to with leadership should you need to escalate the issue. Good and transparent communication is often at the center of management difficulties. Putting everything literally down on paper can help avoid any issues right at the beginning.


2.) Overcommunicate

Similar to getting expectations and assignments down on paper, your ability to overcommunicate with a manager can help you make sure that you are on the right track. When priorities are changing rapidly on your managers side, make sure that you are aware of those conversations and that they are aware of where you are at in terms of your workstream. Helpful project management tools that can help facilitate this level of communication include daily stand-up meetings (either in person or over the phone if needed). A regular briefing of your status and progress will help a manager be able to make small adjustments based on their current knowledge of the project needs, rather than big, thrashy feedback that can make you feel like you need to start over from square one.


3.) Set Clear and Firm Boundaries

Some managers are difficult in part because they will breach personal boundaries. It might be the language they use, their preferred method of communication, the times of day at which they expect you to be available, etc. Managers who don’t respect their employees’ boundaries are often very difficult to work with and for. But it is up to you as an employee to know what your boundaries are and to enforce them. That means knowing when to say no, and to follow through on what you say you will not do. The fact is that enforcing your own personal and professional boundaries can be one of the hardest parts of maturing in your career. But it is an important step. Sometimes a difficult manager won’t be ok with you enforcing those boundaries, and that’s ok in the end. You just know that they are not the right manager for you and you can take the steps necessary to move on to bigger and better things.


If you’re looking to leave your current position and your difficult manager behind, connect with the recruiting team at Bergman Brothers Staffing today.