Article creator image

BY Working Mother

Managing Up: What to Do If Your Boss Doesn't Like You

Colleagues at work

Photo credit: Creative Commons

TAGS: Career advice, Networking

Even though managers should try to remain objective at work, it's no secret that your boss has a fave at the office—and it's not you. Since you have your mind and heart set on moving up in your career, what are your options? Should you focus on winning over your supervisor, or find other ways of reaching your career goals? We spoke with Kathy Kram, Ph.D., professor emerita at the Questrom School of Business at Boston University and co-author of Strategic Relationships at Work: Creating Your Circle of Mentors, Sponsors, and Peers for Success in Business and Life for advice.

Decide whether it's possible to get your boss to like your more.

Despite not being the favorite, if you still get along with your boss, you can attempt ways to improve your relationship. "Try to listen and ask questions of your boss to find what he expects of you, and find if he is willing or able to meet those expectations. It would certainly be worthwhile to have a conversation," Dr. Kram says. She suggests asking your boss questions like "What would it take for you to see me as a high performer?”

If your boss just doesn't seem that into you, find other people who can support you.

You may feel that your manager doesn't listen well or value what you have to offer the organization—both signs that she wouldn't be of much to help to your career, according to Dr. Kram. But it's not the end of the world, because there are so many more people out there who can help. "If you feel your boss is not enthusiastic about you, it's important to consider who else in your workplace might be supportive," Dr. Kram says.

Her suggestion: Develop relationships with more people, whether a more experienced peer, a more senior person in another part of the workplace or even people outside your workplace. "Cultivate relationships with other people who might value what you have to offer, and perhaps even seek out opportunities to work for one or more of those other people," Dr. Kram says. The key is to not rely on just one person (in this case, your boss) for support—and this applies even if your boss adores you.

As Dr. Kram discusses in her book, it's ideal to have a wide circle of mentors, both formal (as assigned by a company, for example) or informal (such as a mentor from a different organization that you reached out to independently), since mentor relationships can fade over time for a number of reasons.

Work to grow your circle of support.

Once you've identified some people you'd be interested in receiving support from—mentors, sponsors, colleagues, peers outside the office—meet with them to learn about what they do and how they got to where they are, in case you're interested in a similar career path, suggests Dr. Kram. Then let the person know what your own career goals are and what you have to offer—part of developing a rapport. Also, ask the person for her opinion on a project you're working on, which could invite the beginning of a mentor relationship, Dr. Kram says. And remember, your boss isn't responsible for your career—you are.

Working Mother is mentor, role model and advocate for the country’s more than 17 million moms who are devoted to their families and committed to their careers. Through our website, magazine, research, social networks, video, radio and powerful events, we provide women and moms with the community, solutions and strategies they need to thrive.

 

Fairygodboss

Fairygodboss is committed to improving the workplace and lives of women. 
Join us by reviewing your employer!

Related Community Discussions

  • My friend just told me (she was trying to be nice) that I'm limiting my career potential because I don't wear makeup to work. Do you think she's right? Do I need to wear makeup to be "professional?"

  • Does anyone here work for Earnst & Young? I see their communications department is hiring for multiple roles I think I'm qualified for. I'd like to learn more "inside scoop" from a current or former employee. Also looking to learn more about how this department is structured so I can figure out which of the positions I should apply for. Don't want to apply for all of them and have it look as if I'm spamming them with my resume.

  • The previous post is a hard act to follow, but here goes: Within a week or two, I will be laid off from the ad agency where I work. Unfortunately, this is a hazard of working at an agency. If the agency loses a major client (or, as in our case, two), staff are let go. For me, this is deja vu; at my last job, also at an agency, we lost a major client and 11 staffers were laid off (including me).

    The advertising industry skews quite young. I laugh when I see a job posting for a "senior" copywriter requiring only three years of experience (I have more than 20).

    While I am seeking a permanent, full-time position either remotely or in the Greater Philadelphia/South Jersey region, I am considering going freelance. I have had a freelance business on the side for decades, but never made the leap.

    So, if anyone has advice on making a living as a freelancer, let me know. Or, if you have any ideas on how to "spin" my experience in a positive way, please share. (And if you want to send a job offer my way, that's OK, too!)

  • I am highly skilled with a background in marketing management (MBA in Finace and Marketing), process improvement (Six Sigma), project management and research. I have been ranked number 3 in quality performance and recognized by a CEO for my innovativeness. I have taken serval (3) years off from the corporate environment to take care a relative that has significant chronic medical issues. I am ready to go back to work, but I have contraint. I want to be available - so I do not want to travel more than 20%. I do not want to work extreme hours - I want a balanced life. I am trying to relocate to the Raleigh/Durham area in North Carolina, so that I can oversee my relative's care, but I realize that this may not be possible.

    Watching this health crisis unfold has taught me that I do not need to make 6 figures. I want work that makes a difference and pays well. I am not a spring chicken (59 years olds). I documents that show the quality of my work.

    Where do I find a company that will provide the mental stimulation and flexibility. I like to think, solve hard problem and significantly change companies in positive way. I like the think tank environment.

    How do I search for and find a good fit?

  • Hi Fairygodbosses! I am writing here on behalf of my mom because I love and want the best for her. She has been working at a non-profit for the last 9 years and has become miserable at work. She wants a career change but doesn't know what she wants to do or how to get there. She is only now making the salary she should be making at 58 years old and I think that holds her back from taking a chance and leaving her company. Do any fairy godbosses here have some advice or resources for a middle-aged woman looking for a career change (and feels like a life change)? How can my mom build her confidence and self-worth to go after what truly makes her happy (or at least start trying to figure it out?) Appreciate any of your thoughts.

Find Out

What are women saying about your company?

Click Here

Share This

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Share with Friends
  • Share Anonymously

Managing Up: What to Do If Your Boss Doesn't Like You

Managing Up: What to Do If Your Boss Doesn't Like You

Even though managers should try to remain objective at work, it's no secret that your boss has a fave at the office—and it's not you. Since you have...

Even though managers should try to remain objective at work, it's no secret that your boss has a fave at the office—and it's not you. Since you have your mind and heart set on moving up in your career, what are your options? Should you focus on winning over your supervisor, or find other ways of reaching your career goals? We spoke with Kathy Kram, Ph.D., professor emerita at the Questrom School of Business at Boston University and co-author of Strategic Relationships at Work: Creating Your Circle of Mentors, Sponsors, and Peers for Success in Business and Life for advice.

Decide whether it's possible to get your boss to like your more.

Despite not being the favorite, if you still get along with your boss, you can attempt ways to improve your relationship. "Try to listen and ask questions of your boss to find what he expects of you, and find if he is willing or able to meet those expectations. It would certainly be worthwhile to have a conversation," Dr. Kram says. She suggests asking your boss questions like "What would it take for you to see me as a high performer?”

If your boss just doesn't seem that into you, find other people who can support you.

You may feel that your manager doesn't listen well or value what you have to offer the organization—both signs that she wouldn't be of much to help to your career, according to Dr. Kram. But it's not the end of the world, because there are so many more people out there who can help. "If you feel your boss is not enthusiastic about you, it's important to consider who else in your workplace might be supportive," Dr. Kram says.

Her suggestion: Develop relationships with more people, whether a more experienced peer, a more senior person in another part of the workplace or even people outside your workplace. "Cultivate relationships with other people who might value what you have to offer, and perhaps even seek out opportunities to work for one or more of those other people," Dr. Kram says. The key is to not rely on just one person (in this case, your boss) for support—and this applies even if your boss adores you.

As Dr. Kram discusses in her book, it's ideal to have a wide circle of mentors, both formal (as assigned by a company, for example) or informal (such as a mentor from a different organization that you reached out to independently), since mentor relationships can fade over time for a number of reasons.

Work to grow your circle of support.

Once you've identified some people you'd be interested in receiving support from—mentors, sponsors, colleagues, peers outside the office—meet with them to learn about what they do and how they got to where they are, in case you're interested in a similar career path, suggests Dr. Kram. Then let the person know what your own career goals are and what you have to offer—part of developing a rapport. Also, ask the person for her opinion on a project you're working on, which could invite the beginning of a mentor relationship, Dr. Kram says. And remember, your boss isn't responsible for your career—you are.

Working Mother is mentor, role model and advocate for the country’s more than 17 million moms who are devoted to their families and committed to their careers. Through our website, magazine, research, social networks, video, radio and powerful events, we provide women and moms with the community, solutions and strategies they need to thrive.

 

Fairygodboss

Fairygodboss is committed to improving the workplace and lives of women. 
Join us by reviewing your employer!

thumbnail 1 summary