We know that a key driver in engagement and job satisfaction is the relationship between manager and employee. A survey by the Gallup Organization identified the qualities people most value in their immediate managers:
Showing care, concern and interest in people
Setting clear and consistent expectations
Valuing people's unique qualities
Giving positive feedback and recognition for work well done
Encouraging and supporting people's growth and development
It’s great when you work with someone you like and respect. Mostly, of course, we don’t get to choose who we work for though we can, in most jobs, choose to walk away.
If you don’t get on with your manager, or if you are being asked to do things you don’t believe in, it can be difficult to cope with, and can make your job a misery. Life’s too short to put up with that. But the job market is tough at the moment and you can’t just walk out every time you don’t like someone or something.
Let’s be professional about this. This is work I’m talking about and you’re there to work, you are not required to be friends with your colleagues. Check your perspective, perhaps you need to adjust your own attitudes or actions?
If, on mature reflection, you find you have an ethical problem with the situation or that your personal values are seriously misaligned with those of your manager or the organisation then there can only, in the long run, be one outcome.
If you don’t want to damage your career then you need to manage a difficult situation with a manager you don’t get on with. If you can then turn the negative situation around and find some positives you can work with.
Influencing skills are a core competence for managers, so here is an ideal opportunity to get some practice at honing your influencing and negotiating abilities. Don’t just practice on your boss, either, make sure you impress his colleagues and his boss with your influencing skills. It’s a really important skill to learn.
Another opportunity for learning arises when you find yourself being asked to do something you think unethical, something you fundamentally disagree with. If there’s a line you won’t cross then it’s important to identify that. You need to be true to yourself, to maintain your integrity but probably when you examine the problem you’ll recognise that there’s a continuum. There’s a trade-off between what you can sustain and your desire to keep the job.
We learn from compromise. Learn to choose your battles wisely. Look at the situation from the other person’s viewpoint and learn to negotiate. Assess and prioritise what you want from the situation, chances are you will find some “wiggle room” but it’s important to know what you won’t give up or give in on.
At the end of the day my feeling is that if your values are not aligned with those of your boss or organisation then you should start planning your exit.