Anna Swenson
November 19, 2013 9:00 am

Even once you land your dream job, you’re probably not always going to get along with everyone in the office. And every once in a while, the people you don’t get along with are going to be your supervisor, boss or manager. It can be tough to be working under someone you don’t like or trust, so below are a few things to keep in mind so you don’t lose your mind or harm your career when you find yourself in that situation.

Leave emotion at the door

When you don’t agree with your boss, it can often feel like his or her criticisms are a personal attack. But in order to create a positive work environment for yourself that continues until you get a new manager, it’s really important to realize that your manager isn’t out to get you. Even if it seems like he or she is deliberately targeting you, it’s much easier to continue doing good work if you think of it as just a matter of perspective. Maybe you don’t see eye to eye on what it means to be friendly to a customer. Maybe you disagree about what “on time” means. Maybe you think you did a great job on a project, but your boss was expecting something different. Whatever the criticism is, commit to understanding it as differences of opinion rather than personal attacks on you.

Look elsewhere for direction

Every workplace has at least one lousy manager. You probably aren’t the only one who thinks so. But rather than finding other disgruntled workers to trade war stories with, look to a more experienced associate as a stand-in manager-like resource. Even when you can’t ask your boss questions about what you’re doing right and how you can improve, you can still look to other people you work with and that’s important information to seek out. If there’s someone who is an equal but is also interested in excelling, it can be a great time for a partnership created to work around a difficult supervisor.

Use it as an opportunity

When a boss is someone causing stress to his or her workers rather than acting as a trusted resource, the workplace isn’t performing as well as it could. That means that something is falling through the cracks – even if it’s just employee morale. Consider ways that even you can address the deficiencies created by a less-than-great manager. Some examples of this might offering your fellow employees to schedule shift trades, bringing in cookies on a rough Wednesday to make people smile, or seeking out upper management on behalf of your fellow workers when needed. Reminding yourself that honest work is the best way, even when no one notices right away, is especially important when you boss makes you feel like everything you do is wrong.

Know your limits

Do you have an impossible manager that schedules you too much or too little, doesn’t notice when you do good work or help you when you’re not succeeding, and isn’t a resource? That’s a perfectly good reason to look for a new job. When it’s not possible to transfer departments to a new supervisor or talk to someone in the company about it, getting a new job might be the best way to address the situation. You don’t want to stay in an environment that doesn’t help you grow. In addition, if a boss is being genuinely abusive, pursue the mechanisms within your company to address that: It will probably start with a meeting with human resources.

Whether it’s coming up with a work-around or just getting out, having a manager you don’t like makes tough work even worse. By not taking it personally, finding other resources, addressing the issues yourself and knowing when it’s time to get out, every young professional can succeed even under bosses that totally suck.

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