Here Are 5 Strategies to Cope With an Unpredictable Manager

Unpredictable ManagerJekyll, reflecting on mankind, “All human beings… are commingled out of good and evil.”

You may be familiar with the Robert Louis Stevenson story of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Dr. Jekyll believed that he found a method of separating the good and evil that he believed resides in all of us. The consequences of his experimentations did not bode well for him or the safety of others.

The story of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde has been used as an analogy for the balance many people try to maintain, between being a good person and doing “the right thing” at work, and acting in accordance with other self-interests. We have all likely worked with individuals who may not have always acted in the best interest of their employer and/or their customers, which can create an ethical and possibly moral conflict.

A duality can also be used to described individuals who are perceived as being moody, or someone who does not demonstrate a well-balanced sense of emotional intelligence. This is a person who seems to have an on/off switch that can be triggered or activated, with or without warning. Those individuals are challenging to work with and when it is your manager whose personality or demeanor seems to constantly change – that poses even greater challenges as that person is responsible for your work assignments, performance evaluation, and reputation with your employer. When you find you are in this situation, there are coping strategies you can implement to help how you respond to and work with this manager.

The Art of Managing Others

While there are countless articles written about managing employees effectively, along with resources that describe leadership styles that bring out the best in employees, managing others is still individually based. For example, some managers can manage employees well while other managers have developed leadership qualities. Some managers are actively engaged in the development of their employees and others manage from a distance – intervening only when there is a conflict that cannot be resolved.

One aspect of managing others that has a significant influence on working relationships is a manager’s disposition. Some managers rule with an “iron fist” while others may view their role as collaborating with employees. Some managers may seem like dictators and others may appear to be aloof and not very responsive to the needs of their employees. It is this disposition that can appear to fluctuate from time to time and if so, that is when employees may perceive they are working for Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

Do Personalities Matter?

As a career coach, I’ve heard many clients state that they did not expect their manager to act in a certain manner after starting a new job – as if that manager intentionally changed their personality. Most people display their best personality when starting a new position, and that includes the employee and their manager. Even with the most engaging job interview, and use of behavioral based questions, it is not always possible to predict how someone else will behave in the long run. You may believe that you have a good feeling about a manager; however, you won’t know if that feeling is an accurate measurement until you have worked with that person.

There is an expression that is often used when employees do not get along and it refers to a difference in personalities. A manager or an employee may state that about the other when it is difficult to get along with them and/or a working relationship has broken down. If the manager has made that statement it is often used as a warning sign and indicator that the employee is expected to change in some manner. No matter how hard employees work to ensure that relationships at work remain professional, after time on the job there is always going to be a personal aspect. Friendships are formed, cliques are established, and a distinction of who is liked or not liked becomes clear – and may be based entirely upon perceptual factors. This happens with every employee and every manager within an organization.

Five Coping Strategies

When it seems that you are working for a manager who frequently changes personalities or their disposition, there are strategies you can consider as a means of coping with and working with that individual.

#1. Find a Way to Relate

When you are able to relate to someone else you are finding common ground with them and being relatable means that you are breaking down potential barriers that could block a productive working relationship. This is not a process that works instantaneously or happens overnight, rather it is a process that is done through a series of positive interactions. When you look for ways to relate to your manager, try to find neutral topics that avoid emotional reactions. In other words, if your manager is challenging to work with you may want to avoid discussing politics with him or her.

#2. Learn to Tolerate Your Manager

If you have a manager who exhibits extreme behavior, learning to tolerate them can be challenging. I am not stating that you have to accept their behavior or try to understand why they act in the manner that they do now. However, you can look at the bigger picture. What would it mean for your job, your career, your team or department, and your employer if you try to tolerate how your manager acts? Learning to tolerate a manager also means you do not go above them and try to report why you believe their behavior is inappropriate – unless you have a justifiable matter that would involve someone from a Human Resources department. How you perceive your manager may be different from the perception held by their superior.

#3. Conduct a Self-Analysis

Any time you are finding what you believe is inconsistent behavior from your manager, the first step is to look inward. While that may seem counterintuitive, it is important because you need to evaluate your perception of this person – along with the actions you have taken or would like to take now. Here are some questions to ask: Have you done your best to develop and nurture a working relationship? Have you performed your very best regardless of how you perceive your manager? Is there anything more you can do or should do now to make the situation better? Finally, if you believe that this situation is unacceptable and cannot be changed, is it time to find a different department to work in or look for a new job?

#4. Watch for the Emotional Triggers or Warning Signs

If you have a manager whose disposition can fluctuate from day to day, it will likely occur often enough that you begin to develop a sense of what the warning signs are or when the changes are going to take place. If so, you can learn to work around or work with those changes. If the personality changes occur suddenly and without warning, then your only alternative may be to avoid any actions that can be viewed as confrontational. You may never know why these changes occur and trying to get to the bottom of it can also be an exercise in futility. However, as you get to know your manager you should be able to identify those times and situations when you should avoid direct contact – unless you are specifically asked a question or instructed to do something for them.

#5. Always Maintain Your Own Emotional Control

It could be easy to state that emotional intelligence on your part is the answer; however, a sudden change in your manager’s personality or disposition requires more than managing your emotions – it most likely means you need to hold back any actions or responses. While you may feel frustrated, you must do your best not to let those frustrations show as it will only create greater tension between you and your manager. Keep in mind that your manager is in a position of authority and any actions on your part that can be viewed as being negative or hostile will only result in negative outcomes or consequences – whether or not you are justified in how you feel about your manager. Maintaining control applies to all of your actions and all of your communication, both verbal and written communication.

Consider Your Manager’s Perspective

You may view your manager’s personality and disposition strictly from the lens of how it applies to you and your working environment. However, you should also consider their perspective as well. A manager is not only responsible for their outcomes and productivity; they are also responsible for an entire team. Their role can be very demanding, especially if goals are not being met. This certainly does not justify any manager acting in a manner that is not emotionally balanced; however, as an employee you can learn to empathize with their role, try to understand what they expect of you, and work to improve how they perceive you and your work. How you respond to your manager can ultimately influence their disposition towards you, either in a positive or negative manner.

If you work for Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, there may be no immediate or easy answers but what you can learn to do is to learn to cope with the situation – to lessen your emotional reactions and help you still work to the best of your ability, for the overall benefit of your job and career. Coping strategies can also lessen the potential for experiencing stress and built up long-term frustration. What you never want to do is to aggravate someone who seems difficult to work with now. You may never fully understand or be able to explain why your manager acts the way that they do now but you have an ability to control your response to them at all times.

How to Get Ahead in Your Chosen Field

Chosen FieldEach and every one of us wants to get ahead in our chosen field. In order to accomplish this successfully we need to be at the right places at the right time. The moot point is to try and develop the right mindset, you would not only taste success in the field of your choice, this attitude would stand you in good stead in life in general.

The Bigger Picture

Once you are able to figure out what it is that you exactly want, you ought to make a concerted plan for getting there. In addition to this you must work really hard and stay focused on the bigger picture. Just ensure that while you are at it, the distractions and the pettiness of everyday living do not get in your way.

The Right Mindset

So far so good, in order to get into the right mindset, you need to take care of certain things, like arming yourself with the requisite knowledge. Figure out your goals, way early in your journey towards success. It goes without saying you got to make a to do list. Under no circumstances keep on holding to your past in a limiting way.

Positive Emotional Outlook

It helps to let go off your past and embrace the best that the present has to offer. In addition to the above, ensure that you develop a really positive emotional outlook. As negative emotions impact work in a big way, nothing short of sabotaging good work instantaneously.

Tread Carefully

While doing so you need to manage your stress well. Different folks tread on different paths, however in order to successfully navigate your way to your chosen field you need to steadfastly stick to the path you have carved out for yourself, it will help you from going astray.

Perfect Your Mental Game

Another helpful thing that you may consider on your way to your destination is talking to someone who has done it before, and perfect your mental game as well. So far so good, now that you done some ground work, it is time to take action.

The Grunt Work

You would do well to make friends who would make you happy. Apart from this harness the power of networking, network as much as you possibly can and a word of advice, never shy from doing the grunt work, which in fact is the first step or rather the stepping stone to honing your skills, becoming an expert and taking on leadership roles.

Face Time

Always strive to bag in as much face time as possible, despite living in the digital age, face time has distinct advantages over digital wizardry. For one you would be remembered and retained much more in the minds of people you meet, no matter what is their standing in the hierarchy or for that matter yours.

State of the Art Marvels

Skype, phone, mail, WhatsApp are all great tools, in fact state of the art marvels of modern day communication technology, don’t limit yourself to the devices and gadgetry, do so only if you come across as a misfit in the company culture, say a burgeoning start up.

Future Happiness

Besides recall value, you would develop an ever stronger bond with your folks. While you are working really hard to accomplish your goals ensure that all this effort at attaining future happiness, does not come at the coast of sacrificing your fulfillment at the present time.

Perfect Time

Always remember there is no more perfect time than now, to start working towards your big dreams be it writing a novel, starting your own business, or running a non – profit for that matter. So stay focused without ignoring other parts of your life.

Learning Opportunities

Whenever you encounter failures and setbacks take them as learning opportunities rather than getting disheartened, throwing the towel and giving up your efforts in the right direction.

Pinch of Salt

Whenever you take advice from people, it should be with a pinch of salt, see how it aligns with your chosen goals, as you grow wiser you would be able to discern which advice to take and which one to leave behind.

Trials and Tribulations

In the end do not forget to have fun as that is going to keep you on an even keel, in the trials and tribulations, which you come across while going about achieving your goals and fulfilling your dreams.

Quota of Fun

Have your quota of fun, take time out to laugh with your friends, have water gun fights or cook an amazing meal for yourself and your near and dear ones. Don’t shy from being completely silly once in awhile, make it a point to try something new or be around people you love the most and share a hearty laugh with them.

A Fresh Perspective

This would not propel you immediately to the CEO’s position within your organization, however it would certainly render you with the desired strength to face life with a fresh perspective, relax a bit and get over the feeling that your career defines you completely.

Final Words

Having fun actually helps you get ahead in life, just ensure you do it in moderation. Just block out everything else and focus on living in the moment. When you are able to have fun while having a demanding engagement in your chosen field, it really defines you as a person who has moved ahead in the desired direction.

 

Ten Career Change Myths

career mythsMyth #1: You can’t make a living doing something you really enjoy

This is a well-known, age-old career myth… the belief that you can’t have a career that allows you a comfortable living doing something that you enjoy and are good at. This is an outdated concept, which stems from the times of our forefathers. Yes, of course you need to earn to provide for yourself, and for your family, but fear and a reluctance to step outside your comfort zone can prevent you from reaching your potential and earning a living doing what you’re passionate about. You don’t have to sacrifice on happiness to make a living, you just have to be willing to think creatively about what you’re good at, how you can earn from it, and be prepared to put in the work. If you enjoy what you do, believe me… it won’t feel like work!

If you find yourself buying into this myth, think about what you’ll regret more… following your passion or giving in to your fears! Now by no means am I suggesting that you give up on a job that pays to follow your dreams without thinking it through, planning, or getting the necessary advice… instead, what I’m saying, is that with motivation, creativity, focus and dedication, (as well as sound advice and judgement)… you can turn what you enjoy into a career.

Myth #2: It’s a tough economy

I’m not asking that you disbelieve news sources… when reports tell you that unemployment figures are rising, that businesses are downsizing or that there’s a slow economic recovery, this may in fact be true, BUT the important thing to remember is that this is not a complete picture. There are always businesses that do well, even in the worst of economic situations. The economy is changing, the way in which we progress through jobs is different, and hiring practices have changed. What makes it difficult to succeed is not necessarily the externally facing challenges, but that we are slow to change and adapt to changing circumstances. If we hold on to old behaviours and old practices, we’ll keep getting the same old (or worse) results. Old ways do work, and there’s no point in re-inventing the wheel when you don’t need to… but adaptation, (like getting the snow chains on your tyres when necessary), is key to being more effective in a world that is rapidly changing.

What I challenge you to do is to think about what you want to do, and to then make a list of all the ways in which you can tap into that market… It may not always be straightforward, but only when you make the effort to consider how it might be possible, can you work toward actual outcomes. You’d be surprised at the leads and opportunities you can generate when you change your mindset and approach things differently.

Myth #3: Changing careers is too risky

It’s true, one of the most risky things you can do is to pursue the unknown… or rather, to pursue what is unknown to you. Changing careers can also bring into question your sense of identity. Most of us have come to define ourselves by using what we do to earn a living as a point of reference. If what you do for a living isn’t what you enjoy or are passionate about, then you’re at risk of having a misaligned sense of identity… but the fear that outweighs this, is the fear of attempting a change, not succeeding, and losing a point of reference, and losing a sense of identity altogether.

If the longing for a career change is there… and you do your research, get the right advice, and make considered decisions, (without over-thinking things), then you minimise the risk. This should be your aim… minimise and take calculated risks.

Myth #4: Always have a back-up plan

The emphasis here is on ‘ALWAYS.’ Of course at times it can be prudent, and smart to have a backup plan. While it’s grown up and responsible, know that it’s not always possible to have a backup plan. It’s also important to realise that if you spend too much time focusing on your backup plan, it decreases the level of commitment to anything else and leaves you with less energy to focus on anything else. Decide what it is that you want, and commit to it, and do as much as you can to avoid the almost inevitable ‘what-ifs’ that leave nagging regrets.

Myth #5: There’s a perfect job out there for everyone

Yes, you’ve heard this one before… and maybe you’ve even wondered when you would come across that job that’s perfect for you, and matches your personality, skills and interests, and pays well. Perhaps you’ve even wondered exactly what this job would be.

So, is there a perfect job out there waiting for you? The answer is, thankfully, NO! Surprised? It’s a ‘thankful’ no, because there are more jobs out there than you can imagine that would fantastic for you. The problem tends to be knowing what that perfect job is, or not being on the lookout for it and missing the opportunity.

If you want a change, start looking and working toward one. Keep your eyes open, ask others to keep their ears to the ground, and look beyond the obvious.

Myth #6: The right thing to do is to ask “what is the best thing to do?”

We’ve all done it… It’s what we consider to be rule 1 when making most decisions. The logical thing to do is to weigh up the pros and cons and to evaluate. Something I learned, is that we often don’t know what the best thing is to do, so we can spend an endless amount of time agonising, and conjecturing. Instead, it’s better to ask three things: What’s the best possible outcome? What’s the worst possible outcome? What’s the most likely outcome? This is the same decision making technique used by top earners and high achievers! When you’ve considered these questions, it becomes easier to weigh up outcomes and make a decision. If you like, you can preface the above with ‘what do I really want to do?’

Myth #7: If you don’t like your job, you’re in the wrong job or career path

It’s normal to think that if you aren’t enjoying your job that it may not be right for you, or that your career path may not be the best (for you). Whilst being unhappy in a job is a reason to re-examine your situation, it may not be a reason to re-examine your job or career choice. What I would encourage you to do is to look at the context in which you’re working as well. Think about how things would change if you were in the same job but there was a different boss, or a different organisational culture, or a different division of tasks. What you need to do is to figure out what the real cause of your discontent is. It can be difficult to figure this out on your own,so it’s useful to have a sounding board in the form of a trusted advisor/coach or mentor.

Myth #8: You need a mission statement

There’s a lot of talk about knowing what your purpose and mission is. This is what gives us some form of guidance, helps to keep us on track, and steers us forward. If you can’t identify yours, or aren’t quite sure, don’t let this fool you into thinking that you’re destined to never reach your full potential or find your right career path. If you spend too much time pondering what your purpose and mission is, you may become so distracted by that, that you may miss out on actually pursuing it! A more useful place to start is with thinking about what you enjoy, and assessing what you’re good at.

Myth #9: Expect a career epiphany

A number of people keep thinking that they just need to figure out what it is that they want to do, and expect that one day, this will suddenly occur to them. If you are one of these… unfortunately, in most instances, this simply does not happen. It would be great if it did, and it was somehow clear to us what the next step was, but instead we have the career path of discovery, where details unfold in time, and we have to make the best possible choices we can along that journey. My advice… think of what you want, and learn from others to make informed decisions which give you a short-cut to where you want to be.

Myth #10: If you ignore it, (i.e. unhappiness in your career), it will go away

A key reminder… you can only ignore something that pesters for so long! At first it may be easy to ignore the feeling of discontent and focus on something else, but you can only push aside the feeling for so long. Eventually you will have to give in and re-assess your position. When doing this, bear in mind some of the myths I’ve highlighted, think through what you want, how committed you are to what you want, and whether you’re willing to succumb to change if that’s what’s required. If you are, and you’re willing to learn from others and utilise the wealth of expertise that is available to help make job, career and life decisions, then there’ll be no stopping you!

Good luck! I hope that you find career contentment and success!

 

How to Get a Promotion

Get a PromotionAs you build your career, there may be many opportunities for promotion. Some people seem to be able to glide up the ladder, while others may find it more difficult to advance. No matter where you fall on this spectrum, there are definite things you can do to help yourself get promoted. Here are a few to try:

Communicate

Does your supervisor know what you do? If you are in an independent working situation, be certain to let him or her know the work that you are doing. Offer ideas to make the business run better and support the implementation of these programs if they choose to run with them. Be a team player. Make your boss look good and they will move you into their slot when your work helps them to excel as well.

Make Yourself Indispensable in the Right Way

Another important part of getting a promotion is to become the best at things… but only the right things. Think managerial and not maintenance. If you become the only one who can fix the copier or file things correctly, then you are unlikely to be moved up because you will be needed to do those jobs. If you are the best at training others, at getting more production out of workers, or at charming clients, however, these are promotable skills.

Stretch Your Office Time

If you are in a highly competitive workplace with few opportunities for promotions, then make it a point to be the first one into the office each day and the last one out of the office each evening. Volunteer for overtime and pick up the slack for others during crunch time. Be seen but not heard. In other words, work long and hard but don’t complain about the workload when others appear to be doing less.

Make Others Look Good

Another thing that will make you stand out in an office is to be a team player. Instead of crushing your coworkers, help them to thrive. This will not only give you a loyal base of friends who can help recommend you for promotion, but it also hones the kind of skills that management wants to see when it comes to supervising others.

Be Positive

People, in general, prefer those with a positive attitude to those with a negative attitude. In other words, don’t complain. This includes complaining about a job being beneath you, gossiping about coworkers, or telling those who have the power to promote you that they have terrible ideas.

Be Professional

Appropriate dress, speech and behavior go a long way in making you a good candidate for promotion. If you feel the need to push the boundaries regarding things that are important to the company, such as personal appearance and appropriate clothing, use of profanity, gossip or other behaviors that tend to be negatively construed, this can work against your chances of being promoted. The best candidates for promotion are able to follow the rules and only push the envelope in ways that will directly benefit the company’s success.

Try, Try Again

Perseverance is one of the key elements for success in anyone. You may not get the promotion the first time, but continuing these professional behaviors will definitely put you on the short list for the next promotion.