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How to deal with poor leadership?

Without giving too much information away, I’m dealing with a boss who isn’t the greatest when it comes to leadership skills. I work online as a scouter for deals, meaning I search online for discounts, and I’m technically an independent contractor. When I first got the job, I asked many questions such as earning potential (since it’s commission based), if there’s a quota I have to fill, and what my role entails. To keep it short, my boss never properly trained me regarding my job. She did do a short video on the basics, however she didn’t go into great detail into things such as what the values were in the organization, what to expect when posting particular items that are discounted, tips on how to be more efficient when posting, basically anything that could help me become a better worker. To my knowledge, isn’t that what a leader or boss should do? Guide and mentor those under you? Especially when they’re new? Let’s just say her communication skills aren’t exactly the best.

What has frustrated me recently is that she sent me a message saying that I apparently was “working for myself” and wasn’t working with the team. She also mentioned things that I had no idea about, things that are very specific to this job and organization, and that I wasn’t doing these particular things. How am I supposed to know these things if she never relayed the information to me in the first place? That’s her job isn’t it? To relay information to me so that I don’t mess up? I have prodded her over time regarding my work because obviously I want to know how to do my job well, but I feel like the boss/employee dynamic is unbalanced, meaning that I feel like I carry the burden of having to figure things out. I understand that as a worker, there are things that I have to do on my own but when there are things that are content specific, that should be on the leader’s plate of responsibility. There are some things that I cannot figure out on my own because they are that specific. The nature of the job did come off as a “do it on your own” type of thing, especially because she told me that there was no quota to fill.

I don’t claim to be perfect. I’m still learning as a worker/employee like asking important questions and being more assertive when it comes to certain things. But this lack of good leadership isn’t really helping. Also, another question. Is it in the worker’s/employee’s place to constructively criticize their boss/leader on their work ethic/skills, etc.? There are more things I can say and want to say but I’ll stop here. Thank you for reading if you made it this far.

#management #organization #community-management #leadership #work #organizationalleadership #working #business #online #boss #technology #criticism #job #sales

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Gary’s Answer

These days it is rare that people stay in one job for their entire career. Frequently people are changing jobs every three to five years (or less). Personally, I’ve been an advocate for seeking new roles within the same company to expand your career, while leveraging the experiences you’ve had to build internal relationships while preserving the intellectual capital you’ve gained.

With that said, you will experience good and less-than-perfect managers. Over the years I’ve had my share of both and I’ve used them equally to build my own management style.

If you are in a tough spot currently, focus on being positive and don’t get caught up in the office politics or discussions regarding your boss. Don’t give anyone the indication you are frustrated and/or unhappy.

Build relationships with your peers and the peers of your boss. Reach out to other managers to explore potential, future roles - make the effort to explore and understand other roles within the company and think how your skills may potentially suit an alternate role.

Chances are you will outlast a poor manager.

Finally, don’t get discouraged. Use these experiences to grow and build your own leadership style. But don’t hesitate to reach out to HR directly if you feel any of your managers behaviour is inappropriate, or doesn’t follow corporate conduct guidelines.

Gary recommends the following next steps:

Reach out to me directly if you would like to setup an opportunity to discuss further - I’m happy to set aside some time over the phone or expand the discussion here.
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Puja’s Answer

You can set up a 1-1 meeting with her and please try to have a constructive conversation with your supervisor.
Request her to give you feedback on the work you do and what you should improve .
Try to understand job expectation from the supervisor.
Also, you can request her to give some reference link to learning the skill which you need for the job. So that you can go through them and do a better job.
And, most important is have patience. Since you are new, you may take some time to learn all the things perfectly.

Regarding her feedback, take them positively and try to take action to make them better.
e.g.: I apparently was “working for myself” and wasn’t working with the team. - Sync up with different members of the team and know them. Try engage in team activity and collaborate with them. if your job requires working with the team members, try to build good relationship with them.

Last but not the least if you tried all the right way to interact and work with you supervisor and still you feel the same way, then may be you can switch job.
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Jay’s Answer

Paajcha Julie,

This is definitely a tough situation, and (unfortunately) not always a rare one. I tend to agree that your manager should be your champion and help you succeed, but that may not always be the case.

There are a few things that I would suggest to you, but keep in mind that you know the dynamic better than I do.

- First, I would look to set up a 1:1 with your manager. The goal would not be confrontational or to attack their work ethic or performance, but instead to discuss the specific things that are troubling you. Come prepared with a list of questions (like you have above) focused on how you can excel at your job. Ask for specifics around areas of improvement and ask for feedback (which you may not agree with, but try to listen and keep an open mind). As for examples of work that others on the team are doing that you can emulate. Above all, try to go in with the attitude of executing on your job better.

- Second, be open about what you need from your manager to be successful. Be pointed and specific about where you think you need help, and offer your suggestions on the best way to work together. Try to be prepared to offer advice on how you best receive instructions and coaching, and see if your manager can help in that way.

- If your efforts at trying to improve the working relationship don't work, or if your manager is not doing their job in supporting you, then you have a difficult path. Either you will need to bring the issue up the leadership chain to their manager in order to see how to come to resolution, or you might have to look for another role (either under another manager or with another company).

At the end of the day, you have tobe comfortable with your manager, just like they have to be comfortable with you.

Best of luck
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Chris’s Answer

Julie, I’m sorry to read you are having trouble with your boss. I can see you are frustrated and that makes the situation unpleasant and difficult. But take heart, there are some ideas and practices that you can employ that will help you.

Schedule regular one on one meetings with your boss. At these meetings come with your questions and your ideas to discuss with her. By scheduling these meetings, it will help to build rapport with your boss and afford you the knowledge to be more successful. Ask her what she thinks makes someone successful in your position. Ask her for techniques she has used or heard of that successful employees have done in the past. Be inquisitive and forthright. Don’t get disappointed if the first one-on-one doesn’t go well. These things take time.

Take good notes. Make sure that when you talk with your boss you write down direction clearly and note deadlines and timeframes for workplace projects and tasks. Once you do that, summarize your meeting with your boss in an email. State work objectives, time frames or important aspects of the meeting. Then send the email to your boss. Make sure to say at the end of the email if there is anything I didn’t cover, please let me know. This will help to make sure you and your boss are on the same page.

Who else does the same or close to the same job as you? Talk with them to get a better understanding of the position and some of the ways they are successful in working with your boss. Its important that you not comment negatively on your boss to others. Just state that you want to do your job to the best of your abilities as you talk with your coworkers.

Do you have a mentor, or is there a mentorship program at the company you can be a part of? Mentors can help you better understand the workplace culture and the political landscape. They can be a strong advocate for you that can help with promotional opportunities.

Finally, it takes time to build a relationship. Give yourself the opportunity to learn how to better interact with your boss using some of the techniques discussed earlier. The fact that you are reaching out for advice is excellent and Kudo to you!

Good luck Julie. I’m confident you will build and strong and productive career.
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Sabina’s Answer

This can definitely be a frustrating experience, but it is also an opportunity to grow your own leadership skills. You could take charge by contacting your manager with a list of tasks you believe you have on your plate for the next XYZ amount of time, and ask for confirmation. This allows your manager to include additional tasks or confirm there are no more. This ensures that you have all the information you need/was relayed to you. In terms of confronting your superiors about their work styles, work ethic, etc. I recommend you refrain, and reframe. Refrain from criticism, and reframe the question. As an example, rather than saying "I don't like your work style" you could say "As you know, I have missed a few tasks. Do you have any advice about how I can ensure I do not do this in the future?"
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Michelle’s Answer

You are definitely in a tough situation. I have had my share of horrible manager/s and looking at the bright side, I think they have made me realize the kind of manager I DO NOT want to become, LOL.

In your case, have a 1x1 conversation with your manager. Be open about your struggles but spin it in a positive way like "I really would like to become a better team player and do a great job. However, I am not aware of what my role entails. Can you please provide me with the set of goals that I need to work on with respect to my role?" Talk to him/her about expectations. What is expected of you, how will it be measured, and what are the criteria to be successful in your role?

I agree with what others said. Have a positive attitude. Do not look like a victim here. Be an effective team player. Be reliable.

However, if doing these things and changes do not happen, ask yourself if the work is worth it. I can sense your frustration. Is the job worth all the frustration and hassles you're experiencing? If not, perhaps you're not a good fit for the role and it's time to move on? Sometimes, workers stay despite the job being very demanding and stressful as long as they have empathetic and supportive managers. People leave even easy jobs with horrible managers. Own your career. Only you can tell what will make you happy.
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Jordan’s Answer

Over the course of my 4-year sales career, I have had three different managers within one organization. It is important to be transparent and upfront with your manager and make sure that if there are any questions and/or issues, you are open about it. You should feel comfortable talking to your direct manager and if not, there are other options (their director or even another manager in your organization that might be willing to listen).

For one manager specifically that I did not work well with (nor did the rest of my team), we kept a log of situations/examples that we could bring up to upper management to make sure a change was made. It is important to have those specific examples, especially if situations escalate and you are asked to speak on them. In the end, you do what you can and if it does not work out, there are tons of opportunities out there so make sure to keep your Resume and LinkedIn up to date!
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Denetra’s Answer

This is definitely frustrating but you've done a good job by getting advice on how to handle the situation. I think you need to address your concerns directly and respectively to your boss. Ask to come up with a 30:60:90 day game plan, TOGETHER. Keep notes on how things are progressing or declining. If necessary, get HR or the proper leadership involved.

Don't let it stress you out. Keep your options open.
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Mickael’s Answer

Hi Paajcha Julie,

It seems there is a gap between you and your manager. I never expected my manager to do some of the things you are expecting yours to do. I am my own owner of my training, career and discuss with her when I have a need for training. And your manager seems disappointed by your work as well.
To relieve the frustration and help moving forward in a healthy way, I suggest you step back from what you think she should do and what you think you are doing the right way and schedule a meeting about her expectations. Then yours. Explain nicely what you were expecting from her, what you did not know that she is asking you to do and so on. I believe this is the only way for you to move forward, be less frustrated by the relationship with your manager and grow.
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Dakota’s Answer

This is a familiar topic for most. I would say it's about controlling what you can. You can have open conversations intended to help you support the business needs better. Make sure you balance what is realistic for you as an individual, and don't just say yes to every request. I would make sure that I have a written scope of my duties and maintain that.
You put how are you supposed to know if they don't share with you, I would say "supposed" is a hard thing to define. I would challenge you and everyone to take full ownership of what you can do differently so that you aren't waiting for someone else to change to make your situation better. If you find that no matter what you do, it's not going to make the change you want to see, look for outside options. Whether that's jobs, better outlets of self-care, or anything you find you need.

I would also search for trusted research or talk to a career consultant if this is a job you're passionate about and want to continue to grow in.
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M’s Answer

Hi Paajcha! Sorry you are having such a tough time. This is honestly more common, where there is a gap between yourself and your manager. I think it is important to share your struggles with your manager, and make her aware of how you feel. There is a likelihood that she does not aware of your struggles and would be happy to provide you with resources or more of her time to make you have that warm welcoming work environment everyone deserves. Good luck, wishing you all the best!
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Carly’s Answer

There are many elements to a productive relationship between a worker and the leader, and in this case, I think that your role as an independent contractor is causing at least some of the tension. Since you are an independent contractor, your boss is limited in the guidance they can provide to you. They cannot tell you how to do the work. Check out the IRS guidelines here: https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/understanding-employee-vs-contractor-designation

Here is a key quote from the IRS guidelines, "The general rule is that an individual is an independent contractor if the payer has the right to control or direct only the result of the work, not what will be done and how it will be done."

Based on your description, it sounds like you are looking for the guidance that would be given to employees. Perhaps you would be more satisfied in a different type of position where a boss is able to give more direction on how work should be done.
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Samantha’s Answer

- Set goals with your boss.
- Network outside of your management team. Does the company have overall toxic leadership, or is it the specific leader?
- Set time to have a conversation about how you feel you're being treated.
- Discuss the overarching company values with your boss. Do you have values that your leadership should be promoting with in the company?
- Find projects that allow collaboration with the team to prove that you are a team player. Tangible proof.
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Carlotta’s Answer

Hi Paajcha,

I am sorry to hear you are struggling with your current employer. While you are correct that you should have been adequately trained for your position, since that didnt happen, next steps are in your hands. I suggest you make a comprehensive list of questions you have, categorize them under topics then set up a one on one meeting. It is crucial that you set the stage for the meeting as being collaborative and that you are seeking support and guidance so that you can be the best, most productive employee for her. It will not be productive to mention all the things she didn't do that will just put her on the defensive and make for an unpleasant and unproductive discussion. Instead, discuss what you need, focus on the positive and working together to improve the situation. Hope this helps.
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Frank’s Answer

Please do not complain about your boss and his workplace methods. If you are not happy with your work place roster or whatever learn from the experience and find another workplace. In your next job interview hand in a positive resume and CV that tells your audience that you are a happy and highly productive employee. Ask your current employer if they will give you a written testimony that you can show to your new employer.
Good Luck! Kind regards! If you have any further questions please contact me here: https://www.careervillage.org/users/74836/Frank
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Andrew’s Answer

During the course of your career, you'll probably have several different managers. Some maybe more engaged in that role than others. "Bad" managers will typically sort themselves out, though it may take some time.

When people leave for new jobs at a different company, many times it is due to the bad experience with a manager.

Andrew recommends the following next steps:

Get on the same page with your current manager - during your next 1 on 1 meeting, ask what specific goals you have for the year, what areas you should be focused on, and what key areas s/he want s you to improve on.
Find a work "buddy" or mentor - someone in your group who is successful in the role who you can model your own performance on.
Update your resume - next too early to look for that next opportunity.
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Antony’s Answer

Some great consistent answers about staying positive and being constructive. At the end of the day, it is best if you own your career/employment experience. Educate yourself, network with others, gain experiences, and ask a lot of questions. Check out Justin Kerr's book "How to be great at your job" (great simple book). And if you want to know more about leadership, check out the book: "How to be a boss".
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Tony’s Answer

Hey Paajcha Julie,

Great question and like others have mentioned - you're in a place that many people are in or have been in their careers so firstly don't think this is your fault or you did something wrong. Something I always remember - in sales specifically - is that we're in a relationship based career and a relationship is a 2 way street. In order for it to work, everyone involved has to be on the same page and working towards the same goal.

That being said, there are a couple of things you can do to understand your current situation a bit better a feel like you're working towards progress:

1. make your position known to your manager by starting with "I feel like" or "it sounds like" statements. This way you're not coming off as you know something and putting your manager at a disadvantage. Your starting a conversation and you admit you don't know everything, but you also have a strong feeling about the current state of things.

2. Seeking constructive feedback is always good - and a great sign of someone that is hungry to learn and grow. If you ask your manager for things you need to improve on and both strategize on how to improve on those things. Odds are that your manager has been in a similar position before of being in a job where they didn't know everything or didn't have access to all resources necessary to complete the job. Help them help you do a better job and continuously monitor the progress (maybe on a monthly basis) as to how you're working towards the goal(s).

3. bring these topics up with coworkers in a way where you're seeking to learn. If you ask "does it feel like..." and share your thoughts then you get an understanding if what you're going through is unique to you or is it a more broad thing across the team/company. This way you might be able to begin solving the problem with your teammates/coworkers and (usually) more minds are better.

Hope this helps!
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Rachel’s Answer

Hey there! Having a supervisor that doesn’t communicate well is tough, and something that most of us will deal with at some point in our careers. If you intend to stay at this job, I would recommend responding to your supervisor, acknowledging her feedback and asking for a meeting with her to better understand the specifics. In this meeting, come prepared to both listen and ask questions. Ask for clarification on anything she feels you have not been performing well on. This is not a time to make excuses (no matter how valid), but could be a good opportunity to bring up that you feel you haven’t received sufficient training for this position. Ask her what you can do to improve upon the areas she feels you are lacking in, and be vocal around your need for proper training in order to make these improvements.
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