Dealing with bad managers can be an emotional drain. Workplace conflict rarely stays in the office; the argument may not follow you home, but residual feelings of resentment, fear, or frustration will. Clerical professionals who work in close quarters or communicate frequently with their bosses are especially challenged when faced with poor management. Learning to communicate assertively, keeping good records, and networking can help you deal with even the worst boss.
In most cases, workplace conflict doesn’t go away if you ignore it long enough. Sure, you might get lucky if your boss is fired for being horrible to everyone, but that doesn’t always happen. In admin and clerical jobs, it’s not even always the thing you want to happen—if your job is to support a single person, what happens when that person leaves? Before you start daydreaming about your boss getting fired—or pondering quitting yourself—try to take action. Workplace conflict may be an opportunity to build a stronger relationship with your boss. Remember that your manager is a person too; people have flaws, and it could be that your boss doesn’t realize what certain management actions are doing to others in the office. Ask for a face-to-face meeting, and, in as unemotional a manner as possible, explain how you feel. Be assertive but not aggressive; be factual but not negative. Then, listen to your boss’s response and try to work toward a solution together.
Once you’ve put yourself out there, it’s time for your boss to do some work. If your boss refuses to listen and doesn’t want to work together on solutions, then you’ll need to take the next step. Truly bad managers are often unable to improve themselves based on constructive criticism, and the worst managers may respond with retaliation. Whether your boss neglects your needs or blames you for failures outside of your control, documentation is your friend. Workplace conflict that escalates to human resources or executive management is often reviewed based on the word of each party involved. Put your clerical skills to work to protect yourself in case issues get worse. Document your progress, work hours, failures, and successes. Be accurate and honest in your documentation; this is what you’ll use to prove your side of the story or bring issues to upper leadership.
Sometimes, there isn’t a good way out of workplace conflict, so it’s important to network within the professional community. Be tactful, but put out the word that you might be interested in other opportunities. Create a LinkedIn profile and check recruitment advertisements regularly. A new slate may be in order if your efforts have done nothing to improve the current situation.
Workplace conflict is horrible to deal with¾especially when it involves your boss. Clerical workers are equipped to deal with a lot, and tact, organizational skills, and strong communication may improve the situation. After you fight the good fight, if nothing changes, it’s time to cut ties and look for new opportunities.
Nancy Anderson is the communities and article Editor for Beyond.com. Nancy has 10 years’ experience in the online job search business with Beyond. Nancy’s team produces dozens of articles every month for top internet sites. Follow Nancy and the Beyond team on https://twitter.com/BeyondJobs.