THERE'S something especially awful about having to go to work every day feeling unappreciated, unsupported and downright disliked by the person who holds your career progression in their hands.
Here's some things to consider when another Monday looms and that familiar feeling of dread takes hold.
THEIR BOSS HATES THEM
One of the most common reasons bosses are not supportive and horrid to deal with is they aren't getting any support themselves. This has nothing to do with you, but all to do with their boss. When they get a kick from their superiors, unfortunately this type of boss spreads the stress downstream and you end up bearing the brunt. One of the best managers I've ever come across had the complete opposite approach and considered one of his primary roles as "heat sink".
That is, absorbing all the stress and protecting his staff from the ups and downs of his superiors. Unfortunately, this skill is all too rare. Next time your boss is coming down hard on you, see if you can see the fear underneath their behaviour. What are they getting a hard time about from their boss? Is there anything you can do to take the pressure off? It's not fair that they can't manage their stress, but at least you know that it's not a personal attack.
THEY FEEL THREATENED
Another reason you can get negativity poured on you from on high is that your boss feels threatened by your education, niche skill set, superior communication skills or any other point of comparison.
This time, it is a personal attack. Something about you is triggering your bosses 'not good enough' story and they are finding it very difficult. Once again, you have not caused this behaviour and you can't change who you are or where you come from. This kind of boss will not progress your career and is one to be avoided where possible. Don't let them undermine you. If you can, bide your time, remember to breathe and plan to report to someone else who has more self-confidence in the near future.
If you are always bringing up all the things that are wrong with the way things are done without acknowledging any progress and this can be exhausting for your boss. Still not a good reason to hate you, but this can cause deep resentment in your boss and make them behave like they do. Remember to let your boss know that you appreciate that things take time, acknowledge any wins and try to balance the negative feedback with the positive. After all, you're only critical because you care about making things right.
YOU AREN'T RELIABLE
Nothing is more frustrating for a boss than an unreliable employee. Making lots of errors, vanishing without explanation, working unnecessarily slowly, forgetting important tasks or prioritising social chats are all ways of guaranteeing an unhappy working relationship with your boss.
Your boss needs to trust you to get work done on time, accurately and remember that it needs doing in the first place. Throw in some accusations about others not pulling their weight when you're not either, and you've given yourself a personal brand that doesn't do you any favours. Still no excuse for your boss to be openly hostile towards you, but see if there is anything you can remove from your employee repertoire.
As an aside, errors are acceptable if your boss knows that you're doing your best, trying your hardest and you are improving over time. Errors drive a boss mad if they are unnecessary, repeated, and you should know better.
YOU GO BEHIND THEIR BACK
Keep the line of communication directly to your boss. Give your boss a chance to address any concerns you have before you go sideways to a colleague or over their head. Your boss needs to find out that you are unhappy, overworked, stressed or looking for other opportunities in the company directly from you. Only go around or over them if you have tried your best to communicate with them first.
BOSSES. WHO NEEDS 'EM?
Take a good, hard look at your boss. Is there anything about them that you respect or admire? Are they firing on all cylinders professionally, personally, mentally and physically? If so, it may be worth working out why they are behaving negatively towards you. If not, weather the storms as best you can, and make an exit plan. Remember, you don't have to put up with abusive, disrespectful behaviour, but you also can't dish it out.
Dr Christine Brown is a psychologist, manager and executive coach.
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