I’m trying to drive improvements in my company, but my boss is always unsupportive. What can I do?

Managers and team leaders should be supportive, encouraging and open to ideas at all times, but the sad reality is that excellent managers can be hard to find. Being faced with an unsupportive boss kills motivation and dispels any desire to be innovative. But measures can be taken.

Classic ways in which a manager can be uansupportive include not being available, lacking clear expectations, undermining or overriding decisions, micromanaging and not giving credit for good work. This type of behaviour can spread through a whole team and reduce productivity.

There are many things that you can do, but here are a few suggestions:

• Have a face-to-face chat and clearly explain what you want. If your manager isn’t giving you clear instructions or is giving mixed feedback, ask exactly what is expected of you

• Make it clear what you are good at. If you emphasise your skills by taking every opportunity to employ them, then your manager is more likely to take notice and be willing to use these skills to the organisation’s advantage. Even faced with an uninterested manager, putting in the effort will pay off in the long term

• Make sure you are aligned with and working towards the organisation’s goals. This should be a wake-up call for any manager that he or she should be supporting your work

• Speak to another manager. This doesn’t mean telling tales, but support doesn’t have to come from one person alone. If there is another manager that you respect then ask whether this person could become a mentor for your career development. That person may then be able to speak to your manager on your behalf. Making connections with other departments may also reveal new opportunities

• Collect evidence. Make a note of occasions when your boss isn’t supportive – you can then use this material during a face-to-face meeting or even if you decide you have to go over your manager’s head to sort out the problem

• Anticipate your boss’s behaviour. If your boss is likely to micro-manage you and constantly ask for updates, pre-empt this by suggesting you give weekly or monthly detailed updates. If your boss is likely to take credit for work you’ve done, prepare an email or report to send out to the rest of the company and let your manager know that you are going to communicate successes yourself. Changing the behaviour of an unsupportive manager isn’t easy, but above all you need to make sure that you can rise above it. Letting your motivation for your job fall because of a boss shouldn’t be an option.



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