Ever get a feeling that your boss hates you? You might be right. I’m not suggesting that you’re unlikeable (I’m sure you’re lovely) it’s probably nothing personal and there’s usually something you can do about it. Here are five reasons why your manager is being standoffish:

Some managers just want to be feared.
Some managers just want to be feared.

1. You used to be colleagues.

You and Geoff used to sit at the back of daily briefings and snigger at how useless your boss was. Now he’s been promoted, he thinks that you’re sniggering at him. He’s trying to assert his authority right now and you need to let him (within reason, if he becomes dictatorial, do say something). You’re not colleagues anymore so it’s time to readjust your working relationship. It might help if you mentioned to him that he’s LOADS BETTER than the last guy. Just keep it subtle, no brown-nosing, please.

2. She’s threatened by you.

You’re good at your job, really good. You have the experience, skills and contacts to prove it and everyone loves you. Of course your boss acts like she doesn’t like you! Deep down, she’s wondering if you’d be better at her job than she is. She’s probably imagining that everyone else thinks so, too. Tread carefully, this is a difficult situation. It might be worth seeking her wisdom on a couple of issues, it’ll show her that you respect her and value her input. Choose those issues wisely, nothing too trivial or it’ll seem like you’re not capable.

3. You have different working personalities.

Are you a morning person? Get more done by 10am than most of us do all day? Maybe you like the radio on while you work, or you never submit anything until the deadline. These are all normal ways to work, but if your boss hates mornings, does most of his work between 6pm and 8pm, loves to work in total silence or prefers to submit work at least a week before her deadline, you’re going to clash. It’s nothing personal, you just have different ways of working. Many offices are open plan and this kind of thing can cause real division. If you’re part of a smallish team, suggest you set up some ground rules, e.g. “don’t talk to Mary before 10.30am, unless it’s to offer her coffee” or “don’t put any calls through to Dave after 6pm and turn the radio off at 5pm.” Pick two or three rules each and stick to them, you’ll all start to like each other a whole lot more.

4. You overstep your boundaries.

If you start more than one conversation with your manager with the phrase, “I hope you don’t mind, but…” then you might be pushing the limits of your job description. Do you write up monthly reports on her behalf, make budget decisions without asking her or sign off projects before she’s ok-ed them? You think you’re showing initiative, but it’s possible you’re stepping on someone else’s toes. I don’t want to sound like your gran, but you need to learn your place. If you want some more responsibility at work, ask for it – don’t just take it!

5. You’re leaving him.

If you’re moving onwards, upwards and elsewhere, you’ve probably handed in your notice. It’s not uncommon for managers to became hostile while you work out your notice. Some people take it personally when their colleagues move on to pastures new. No, it’s not terribly professional, and yes, it’s a bit petty, but it happens and you have to deal with it. It’s easy to lose your enthusiasm for your job when this happens, but you need to take the high road here. While your boss is in the huff, you still have a job to do. Get on with doing your job well and smile, remember, you’ve only got a few weeks left before you’re free!

When it’s Not Ok

If your manger dislikes you for other reasons, it’s not ok. If you feel picked on, bullied or intimidated, you need to speak up. When your boss dislikes you because of your gender, ethnicity, religion disability or sexuality, that’s illegal and you need to speak to someone about it. The Equality Act 2010 protects you from discrimination in the workplace. Some larger companies have their own employee relations or ethics helplines that you can call, otherwise go to HR. Pregnancy and maternity are also covered by The Equalities Act so your boss can’t pass you over for promotion, refuse to offer you training or not give you certain projects because you’re having a baby. 

Whatever the reason, if you think your manager has a problem with you, talk about it. It you don’t want to talk to them, speak to someone in your company you trust. Chances are, you spend more time at work than you do anywhere else all week and you deserve to be happy there. Don’t suffer in silence!

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