If you’ve never had a boss that dislikes you, it’s only a matter of time. Surveys show that most of us will eventually face a boss that seems to have an axe to grind. So, if you haven’t faced this situation yet, your turn is coming. Handling this delicate situation requires tact and self-control. It’s easy to turn yourself in to a basket case or ruin your career.
Be thoughtful and cautious. A boss that dislikes you is reason for concern.
Try these ideas to alleviate this unpleasant situation:
1. Ask your boss for feedback. Ask for feedback on your work. See if there are any areas in which you can improve. You might find your answer just by asking a few simple questions.
2. Ask coworkers for feedback. Do you have a trusted ally at work? Ask him for an assessment of the situation. Maybe a third-party can see something that you can’t.
3. Look for the point of origin. When did the friction start? If you can figure out the original cause, you can more easily address the situation. Give it some thought and make an effort to determine the beginning of the negative feelings.
4. Do your coworkers face a similar situation? Maybe it’s not you at all. Maybe your boss has a problem with everyone. In this case, you can probably just ignore the situation or turn it into a group effort. It sounds like the perfect opportunity for an impromptu happy-hour after work.
5. Up your game. Be the perfect employee for a while and see if that helps. Always be on time to work and with your work. No gossiping. Dress appropriately. Take a look at your department’s best employee and use her as an example.
6. Mimic your boss’s demeanor. Be your own person, but take on the general demeanor of your boss. If she’s chatty and casual, follow suit. However, if your boss is all-business, all of the time, be more formal and serious.
7. Have a heart to heart. Address the situation directly. Ask your boss why she seems to be frustrated with you all the time. Ask for suggestions and then follow them.
8. Speak with human resources. While going to human resources may seem relatively mild, this is your nuclear option. The boss won’t be happy, but this might be enough to bring her back under control. Standing up for yourself can be empowering and shows that you mean business.
Every company is different. In many companies, the human resources department is very loyal to management. Consider your business environment.
Ask for a lateral move. In a sufficiently sized company, there may be another opportunity available.
9. Get out of Dodge. If all else fails, make an exit strategy and spend every spare moment getting out of there. Avoid quitting before you have another job lined up. Update your resume and each out to everyone you know.
10. Keep it civil. Once you’ve found another position, avoid giving your boss a piece of your mind on the way out the door. Nothing lasts forever. Your nemesis might leave the company in the near future. You could always return at some point. If you cause a lot of drama on the way out, you’ll be banned permanently.
When your boss doesn’t like you, you have a few options. Determine the cause and fix it, speak with human resources, or find another position. Most importantly, maintain your employment until the situation is resolved. You can never be certain how long it will take to find another position.