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May 30, 2013
What to Do When You Don’t Like Your Supervisor
No matter where you rank in the business world, from intern to Senior Vice President, you will be working with others. Whether you’re just starting a business or have been working for a while, you could come across a situation where communication between you and a manager falls short of expectations.

Colleagues and coworkers need to be able to communicate with one another; otherwise, a business won’t be able to progress and succeed. While some may think they can just ignore it and others may think it means they should quit, both probably haven’t considered their options when it comes to management conflicts. Before you quit your internship or new job because you don’t like your supervisor, keep in mind that an internship is a learning experience and good employees often last longer than bad managers. If you don’t like your supervisor, here’s what you can do to try and change that.

Keep Quiet
Now, I don’t mean never saying what’s bothering you. In this instance, “keep quiet” means “don’t gossip.” Gossip doesn’t belong in the office. Although it does happen, do your best to avoid being a part of it. Socialize with your coworkers, but understand what topics are off limits. There are a few reasons you don’t want to discuss your distaste towards your supervisor with coworkers.
  • Your Reputation: Sure, conversations take place around the water cooler or copier, but your opinions about your supervisor shouldn’t. As a new employee or intern, chances are you’re still establishing your place within the company or department. You want a great reputation, not one of someone who gossips.
  • Your Job: If a conversation about your manager reaches their ears before you have a chance to address them directly, you could be up for termination. Often, interns are not under the same hiring and firing structures of permanent employees. Not only will you end up with a bad reputation and no job, you no longer have the reference you were hoping for.
Talk It Out
If you’re in the business world, act like a professional. If you don’t like the way your supervisor is speaking to you or managing you, sit down and talk like adults. If your manager is the type of person who appreciates and responds well to feedback, the direct approach may be the way to go. Try to resolve things person-to-person before getting others involved. 
  • If your manager doesn’t send out a meeting breakdown within 24 hours after your one-on-one, send a meeting summary to them. Make note of when you met and what was discussed, and subtly mention whether or not the issue was resolved.
  • Consider your own role instead of pointing fingers. Be understanding as they may not realize what they’re doing upsets you. Spend some time thinking about your own shortcomings and if this conversation is a chance for an exchange of feedback so the working relationship can improve.
Turn to HR
Sometimes a direct approach won’t work. Your direct manager may not change what they’re doing or you may still not like them as a supervisor. If your supervisor isn’t responding well to a more direct approach on your end, it may be time to get human resources involved. However, you’ll need documentation to support whatever claims you plan to make.
  • Before: Before your meeting with the HR manager, write down your thoughts and issues from your own point of view. Be sure to include specific examples and suggestions on how these issues can be resolved.
  • During: During the meeting, speak clearly and reference what you wrote down earlier as well as notes from your one-on-one meeting with the supervisor and the results of that sit-down.
Be sure to point out possible solutions and areas where both you and your supervisor can improve. No one is perfect.

If you don’t like your supervisor, spend some serious time considering why that is. If your personalities clash, see if there are opportunities for you to spend some quality time with your boss, over lunch for example, where you can get to know each other better. When working with a supervisor you don’t like, keep it to yourself until you have a chance to address the person directly. If that doesn’t work in making things better, consider involving HR to mediate. 

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Erica Bell is a small business writer who focuses on topics such as business loans and credit card processing. She is a web content writer for Business.com, a directory that provides advice on topics including small business credit cards and payroll software solutions.
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