Every workplace has that one person who can be difficult and test people’s patience. Unfortunately, sometimes that person is our boss. Disliking a boss puts you in a challenging position. It adds stress to your work day and can even make you consider looking for a new job. Although you might dislike your boss’s policies or management style, it is important to keep a level head and not burn any bridges. If you’re feeling frustrated with your situation, check out the tips below on what to do when you clash with your boss.
Understanding the Boss
People cite disagreeing with a boss’s policies as one of the biggest reasons for feeling at odds with an employer. While we are entitled to our own opinions, it is important to remember that the boss was hired for a reason too. As a person in a higher position, the boss is usually exposed to more information than his or her subordinates, so it is quite possible that unpopular policies may be based on information that is unknown to you.
Dean, Hiring Expert at Archer Daniels Midland, points out that in this situation, it’s best to “look for the ‘why.’ Why did your boss do what he or she did? When you look from their vantage point, things look differently and it may help you to understand that it is not to be mean or a bad boss. Also, be upfront and ask them why they did what they did. Not in a confrontational way, but rather as a learning opportunity.”1
If you’re able to understand the reasoning behind your boss’s policies, perhaps you won’t dislike him or her so much.
Working Through Differences
Regardless of whether or not you agree with your boss (even if you know the reasoning behind decisions), you should not let your feelings dictate your work. Eddie, Hiring Expert at Quest Diagnostics, explains that it is best to “concentrate on your job. Be productive and meet your expectations. Nothing is more important than that. One mistake I made early in my career was letting my productivity slip because of my personal feelings about a boss.”2
By itself, dislike is usually not a strong enough reason to fire an employee; yet, if the level and quality of your work dip too low, then your boss will definitely have grounds for terminating your employment. Don’t give him or her the chance. Focus on yourself and produce your best work, regardless of how you feel about your supervisor. This will not only protect you, but it will also demonstrate your ability to work in adverse circumstances.
Explaining Conflict in an Interview
If your work environment is so toxic that you feel the need to leave every moment that you’re there, then it probably means that it’s time to start looking for a new job. It is highly probable that a future interviewer will ask why you left your previous job. If this question comes up, it’s important that you don’t blame your former boss.
As Alyssa, a Hiring Expert at Quest Diagnostics, puts it, “You never should bash your former employer because your interviewer could potentially know your old boss, especially if it is within the same industry. A good way to answer that question would be to let them know that you didn't see yourself continuing to grow with the company. Explain the environment and career path you are looking for and then explain how the company you are interviewing for would help you with that.”3
Focusing on the positive keeps the spotlight on your talents and aspirations rather than on a toxic relationship from the past. This communicates potential and resilience, which are attractive attributes to employers looking for the right kind of employee. Bitterness, on the other hand, can work against you in an interview.
Nicole, Hiring Expert at ManpowerGroup, says, “When you talk negatively about employers it causes concern and makes you seem like a negative person or someone that puts blame on others, and this could cost you the position. Nobody wants to hire a negative person. It is best to focus on your accomplishments and what skills you can bring to the new position.”4
Workplace conflict is always a difficult issue. It becomes especially strenuous when the conflict is with your boss. Despite how you might feel about your boss, it is important to always put your best foot forward, both in your current work and future interviews. Actively consider the reasoning behind policies you dislike, and don’t burn bridges. Keeping a positive attitude will lead to a much higher chance of achieving happiness in your workspace.