I am 29 years old and have been with our company for 5 years now. I can say that my company is an ideal one. My only problem is my boss. I have been a supervisor for less than a year and have discovered that what my three co-supervisors including my former boss, have told me about our boss, who is our department manager, are all true. She is an old maid in her mid-30s. She is hardworking and very results-oriented and keeps long hours. I was also told by my former boss that she was the one who promoted me from my former technical position. She is unapproachable; her facial expression and demeanor are such that one would hesitate to approach her. She is always at a meeting or in front of her computer. She wants everything to be approved by her and to pass to and through her. She even wants my four subordinates to go directly to her and she goes directly to any of them for inquiries, information or questions even in my presence. I’m confused about my role. I want to talk to her but feel discouraged to do so because of her actions and actuations. I don’t want to seek a transfer to another department because I will surely start from the bottom again; neither do I want to resign because of her. But I don’t know what to do. Please advise me.
You mentioned three positive things about your boss, e.g., she saw your strengths and potentials for leadership and had you promoted; she is hard working and results-oriented. The rest of your descriptions of her are negative; additionally you perceive her as your “only problem”.
It is important that you take positive steps to meet with her. Since you are reporting directly to her and you impact on each other’s work, having a positive relationship with her will be beneficial to you, in both your work and in your career. To do this, it is important for you to set aside your negative thoughts of her and put in your mind the three positive things about her. These negative thoughts lead to your negative perception and feelings affecting your behaviors towards her. As for your hurt feelings when she goes directly to your staff and wanting your staff to go directly to her, remember that she may have her own reasons. Does she get better, quicker or accurate information when she does this? This is a subject for self-confrontation, not self-defense. In self-confrontation you ask yourself honestly: Am I the cause of her going directly to my staff? What is the quality of my work? Am I meeting deadlines?
Request her for an appointment for a meeting and set a goal in your mind for such a meeting, i.e., to establish lines of communication. If she asks you “What for?” you can simply say, “I’d like to consult you, Ma’am, on some important matters about my work.” And say this respectfully.
Be prepared beforehand with what you will tell and ask her. Review your position description, your responsibilities and authority. List down what you want her to clarify.
At the start of your talk make sure you have a happy countenance by thinking of her positively and perceiving her as an asset, not a problem. Start by thanking her for promoting you to supervisor and that you want to do your best to live up to her expectations. This is why you want to clarify certain matters.
Ask her for feedback on how she finds your performance. Then clarify with her each item in your list that you want to take up. Ask her where she wants you to improve some more. Take down notes. Then do what she wants you to do.
If after you’ve done the above, she still behaves the way she does, you just have to “dance with the music”, as the cliché goes. You can not change her habits. You can not change her management style. That is the culture she wants in her department. You just have to take her as she is and make the adjustments yourself since you write that your company is an “ideal one” and that you don’t want to resign.
Pray to God to transform her and to give you the grace to change yourself. God bless you.
Josie O. Santamaria