Whether they are a micromanager, narcissist, or downright clueless, a poor manager can derail your financial services career, and can even make every day at work a living hell. However, you do not have to let them.
Here’s a rundown on some of the most common types of difficult managers, as well as some strategies to ‘manage the manager’ to your benefit, including knowing when to appreciate your career development might be best served somewhere else.
This person cannot leave you to do the smallest thing unsupervised. You have zero autonomy in your role and feel like you are being suffocated as they chip in with unsolicited advice, ask to be CC’d in every single email, and insist on constant updates and reports. You are starting to see them in your sleep.
How to manage the manager: Beat them at their own game. Understand that the micromanager is typically motivated by fear. They are worried about things going wrong and cannot bring themselves to leave others to do the job unassisted in case disaster strikes, and it reflects poorly on them.
Your job is to placate those fears, by showing that you can micromanage with the best of them! Report on the smallest things, ask them questions, CC them in on everything you do. Over time, they will realise that you have got things under control, they can trust you, and they will slowly start to release their white-knuckle grip on your working day.
You do not remember the last time you saw your boss on a Monday morning before 10 am, and when they get there, they lock themselves in their office and make it clear they do not want to be disturbed. You get no direction or support from them and feel like you are working in the dark, unsure if you are making progress or if you are just wasting your time. The team has no focus and performance is sinking.
How to manage the manager: Step up. The first action is to try and communicate your preferred management style, by telling them that you perform better when you get more feedback and direction. Perhaps the manager feels out of their depth or is trying so hard not to micromanage that they have gone too far the other way.
If they continue to show complete disinterest in the team’s affairs, it is a great opportunity for you first to ask what the team should be working towards, and then motivate the team to step up and do it together. If you are hoping for a management role one day, this is a golden opportunity to show leadership.
The narcissist manager makes it all about them. They are self-aggrandizing, often steal the glory of their team members, and won’t hesitate to blame one of their team if something goes wrong. They can be extremely manipulative and display a lack of caring for other people’s feelings. Additionally, the most severe form of a narcissist, a malignant narcissist, has a deep obsession with power and can be aggressive and deeply paranoid.
How to manage the manager: Flattery will (often) get you somewhere.
The trait common to all narcissists is the enjoyment of power and a towering need for recognition. Which, if you choose to remain under the leadership of a narcissistic manager, may be your ticket to success. Make sure a narcissist never feels you are a threat, flatter them wherever possible, and don’t give them any personal information about yourself that they can use to manipulate you.
Additionally, if you absolutely must talk to them about your working relationship, remember to always frame it in a way that they clearly see the benefit to them. How do you do this? Talk about performance that reflects well on them as a manager. For example, pose your request to work from home (and away from them!) as ‘I’ll be able to hit the targets the CEO has asked you for if I’m able to work away from office distractions for two days a week.’
However, these strategies may not work if you and the narcissist manager already have a poor working relationship; in this scenario, it is often better to reach out to a recruiter to find a new role. Ditto if you feel your mental health and career are struggling under this person’s leadership.
Next time we will look at a few other managers you might have come across – you can read the post here.
JobFitts Consultants are a specialist provider of professional Recruitment Services for the Financial Services sector and related suppliers in Australia. Since 2003 we have recruited and placed a breadth of operational roles at all levels from; HR, Accounting, Marketing and Customer Service/Frontline.