What to do when a new boss changes how you feel about your job

Our agony aunt Mary Fenwick offers words of wisdom to help with whatever is troubling you, this time a work problem


What to do when a new boss changes how you feel about your job

'My new boss is making the job I loved unbearable'

How do you deal with a boss who is never happy with what you do? I had no problem with my previous boss, who happened to be my new manager’s father, but now Junior has taken over, and despite trying to get on with him, he constantly belittles and berates me. I am very good at what I do and I am conscientious and hardworking. But he is very difficult to work with and I just can’t seem to please him. It’s making the job I once loved unbearable. How can I improve our working relationship and feel happy at work again? Natalie

It always amuses me that relationships are referred to as ‘soft’ skills at work, when the effects can be so hard and financially measurable. If you are in a family business, you are on the pointy end of a global economic challenge. Handing over to the next generation is a make-or-break time, when up to 70 per cent of such companies fail, generally because of family relationship problems, not business issues.

I invite you to believe that whatever your new manager’s actions look like, his intention is to do his best for the business. He might even be partially blinded by his own desire to succeed and prove himself. You also want to do your best, and when you are happy, you will be more productive. I can’t see how referring to him as ‘junior’ is helping either of you.

If there is any budget for staff development, I’d advise you to look at MBTI (myersbriggs.org) or FIRO-B psychometric tests. These are a neutral framework for looking at what people give out, and what they want to get back at work.

I suspect that he is offering you critique, believing it’s helpful information. What you want is reassurance that you are appreciated for what you do well, before you can listen to specific points. I know this might be hard, when you are feeling under attack, but I’m asking you to see if you can use your longer-term experience to your advantage. One script would be: ‘I know you want the best for the business and I want the satisfaction of doing a great job, but our conversation has left me feeling demotivated. How can we get back on track with each other?’

Even if your boss is actually being a bully, then you can still deal with him straightforwardly.

More inspiration:

Log on: 3 tips for managing workplace stress

Read Why you get triggered at work and how to stay calm by Obi James on LifeLabs

Photograph: iStock


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