Q:How does one deal with a difficult manager who refuses
to work with you, has limited people skills and is a not a team builder? Among other
problems, I suffer from lack of information and my projects are actively sidetracked
through lengthy review times. Despite the issue, I still perform my duties well
and deliver results, though – she gives me no just credit. My work is well regarded-
even by others outside the organization. I feel she doesn't like me and is threatened
by my competence. I have discussed our relationship problems with our HR manager,
my VP and company President, but to no avail. I would like to report her to the
Board for misconduct, however I am wondering about the impact on my career. Would
this be career suicide? What are my options? When should I consider legal action
justified or appropriate?
A: Your experience is not unique! Nearly one third of all resignations
are caused by poor manager – employee relationships
If the HR Manager, VP and company President are aware of the issue but have not
acted, going to the board would only make things worse for you.
You appear to have done all you can to tackle the problem. The lack of resolution
suggests there is little else to do but leave. At the moment, the Trinidad job market
is very buoyant, so you should have no problem finding more fulfilling alternative
However if you choose to stay and fight it out, here are some tips that might help.
- Your manager is probably operating from her negative personality, rather than consciously
trying to be difficult. She may not realize the harm in her actions or that she
is jeopardizing her own and others’ success.
- Such behavior usually masks deep insecurities and lack of self-esteem. Don’t be
angry with her but try to help.
- Maintain your own self-esteem. Don’t accept verbal abuse.
- See things from her viewpoint. Ask questions to try and discover why she reacts
negatively. Being threatened by you and feeling insecure about her own job, may
be manifesting itself in this behavior towards you. Reassure and support her. Turn
the tables – be super-positive.
- Don’t push. It will make things worse. Wait for a calm moments to discuss the issues
- Ask HR to reassign you to a different department.
- Legal action should be the last resort and only if you have clear evidence (witnesses
and written statements) of career sabotage.
- If all fails, then it is time for another job.
On resignation, insist on an exit interview. At the interview, give honest and balanced
feedback. Recommend that the firm improve the manager’s leadership, communication
and interpersonal skills through coaching and training.
Hopefully as they watch you and your talent walk out the door both manager and organization
will feel regret and vow to learn from their mistakes.
Lara Quentrall-Thomas is the Founder and 1st President of the Association of Female
Executives of Trinidad & Tobago (AFETT). She is also the Founder and Managing
Director of Regency Recruitment.