How to get along with a difficult supervisor

We continue our theme of the supervisor/employee relationship this week. I thought I would answer some questions from the point of view of the employee.  Be sure to watch my YouTube video on this topic.

Why do you believe it should be the responsibility of the employee to set the stage for a positive relationship with the person in charge? Wouldn’t the supervisor assume that role?

Ideally, both the employee and the supervisor must take responsibility for setting the stage for a positive ongoing relationship.  However, if the supervisor is not making an effort that is visible and obvious to the employee, then the employee is going to have to take the initiative to do so.  Life is not necessarily fair, and we all know that it is rarely ideal.  If neither of these parties takes the initiative, then the chances that the relationship will be a healthy, positive one are slim in my opinion.

How can an employee cope with a supervisor whose actions might not warrant respect?

I suggest that employees learn to respect their supervisor’s position if they cannot respect the individual.  Respect the position and all that it involves.  That includes the supervisor’s job duties, level of responsibility, authority, unique challenges, problems, needs.  Supervision is never easy regardless of who is charged with doing it.

What’s the best way for an employee to approach a boss who is brash or otherwise unapproachable?

If someone’s boss is basically unapproachable, I recommend that the employee directly ask the supervisor how he or she prefers to communicate and interact.  Then make a mental note of it.  Pay close attention to it and do business with the boss in the ways he or she requests.  To step outside of those preferences is asking for problems.

If you have a question regarding the relationship among your employer or employee(s), send your questions, in confidence, to:

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