Q: I’ve worked for my company for about 3 years now, and a new manager has just taken over our team. He’s horrible and comes into the office every morning angry. As soon as I see him he puts me on edge and I worry that I’m not doing my work properly and that he’ll make a scene in the office. He’s belittled me in front of my colleagues on more than one occasion and doesn’t have any respect for me. He’s doubled my workload, which I’m struggling to cope with. I’m feeling anxious when I go home, and I worry about going to work the next day. My job is quite specialist so there's not a lot of other roles available. When other jobs do come up, they normally require me to relocate, which I can’t do because of my family. My anxiety and stress levels are really getting out of control, and I’m not sure what to do. Can you help?
A: If you work full-time you’ll be spending most of your time at work, and based on how your boss treats you, it’s unsurprising that he’s the cause of most of your anxiety and stress. You’re certainly not alone in this – unfortunately, there’s enough bad managers to go around the equator, twice. First and foremost, don’t take it personally. It’s highly likely that your boss acts the way he does because of his own anxiety and stress. That’s, of course, no excuse to treat you the way he does, but it helps if you can also see it from his perspective – that it’s nothing personal, and his way of dealing with it.
Like any fear (in your case, the fear of your boss), the first thing you need to do is confront it; otherwise it will continue to cause you excessive anxiety and stress that will affect both your home and work life. Ask to speak to your manager privately, and calmly and assertively tell him your concerns. Write them down and practice them, so you feel confident about what you’re going to say when you talk to him. Highlight why you’re unhappy about the way he talks to you, and how it makes you feel. Include the fact that you want to work to your full capability for him and the team, but don’t feel you’re able to do your best work under these circumstances. Don’t be afraid to be honest, and be specific. For example, when you mention that your workload is excessive, tell him why based on your previous work, and use facts to back up your case. With a strong enough fact-based case, a rational boss (good or bad) won’t have any other choice but to cut your workload, especially if they want to keep a good employee. Confrontation isn’t easy, I know, but it’s no harder than going home at night feeling anxious and stressed, dreading the prospect of going to work the next day.
The meeting is likely to go one of two ways:
1. Your boss will respect you for being brave enough to confront him, and he’ll start to show you the respect you deserve. In this instance, your working life will completely change. You’ll be given a fair workload, and the abuse will stop.
2. If your boss doesn’t change his attitude towards you, it shows his true character. He’s a guy you don’t want to work for, and he’ll never change. In this circumstance you have two options: you can either go above his head by speaking to his manager, or you will have to look for another job. I know the latter isn’t fair on you, but unfortunately, you have to accept that you get good and bad characters in the workplace – he’s one of the bad ones, so move on. Look for a new job sensibly, and research it well (so you don’t go from the frying pan into the fire). Be as professional as you can be whilst you’re still working for him.
Whatever happens, remember, you’re the bigger person. It’s up to you whether or not his words and actions cause you stress and anxiety, or whether you decide to take them with a pinch of salt. You’re in control, and there’s nothing you can’t deal with or change.
ANXIETY REBALANCE COURSE
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