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Manage your boss

What should you do if relations with your boss are less than perfect? Tempting as it might be to spend your working day making rude, Beckham-style gestures when they are not looking, this is hardly the mature way to progress your career. If you dislike your boss, or feel your boss dislikes you, there is no point behaving like a moody teenager.

So what is the smart thing to do? It could be a matter of sitting tight and seeing what happens or it could mean cutting your losses and finding a new job, as one NCE reader found. 'I spent close to a year working for a lazy, talentless individual, who was more than willing to take all the credit for my hard work, ' he comments. 'This man would continually remind me that he was the boss and his word was final, if I questioned his actions or made suggestions of my own. I felt I was carrying him along.

'In the end I decided the only thing to do was to get another job. I just couldn't 'put up and shut up' as friends bored by my constant complaining suggested. Thankfully I soon found another job, even though it was something of a sideways move, I was much happier.'

Anyone who finds themselves in such a situation needs to take a long hard look at their options, says Mo Shapiro, life coach and partner in the firm Inform Training and Communications. 'If your boss obviously dislikes you, for example you are always the last person to find things out, or you're put in awkward situations without discussion, there comes a point when you have to make a decision; you either look for another job or try to work out how you can work together.'

It might be worth confronting your boss and asking if they have any specific problems with work you have done, Shapiro suggests. 'But remember to keep your questions behaviour-based rather than personal, ' she warns.

It may also be worth taking a step back and looking at your own actions, she adds. 'Ask yourself 'how helpful am I in this relationship?', or think if you were your boss how you would deal with yourself.'

Another distancing tactic, according to Observer columnist and employment expert Neasa MacErlean, is to work out whether your boss is basically reasonable. 'Perhaps you are the difficult one, ' she points out. So if you feel you have had a succession of bad bosses then it probably is time to question your own behaviour.

And if you do decide to confront your boss, then be careful how you do it. Ganging up with colleagues and confronting him or her as team is not a good idea and seldom yields satisfactory results for either party.

Instead, look out for yourself and your interests, have clear objectives and address one issue at a time, says Shapiro. There is little point in releasing the flood gates and spewing forth a tirade of festering hostility and resentment.

If you do decide to stick it out, you could also try improving things by advertising your successes - subtly, of course. If your boss is impressed by brasher colleagues, you need to box clever, advises Neasa MacErlean.

'Avoid overt bragging, ' she says, 'but you could ask, for instance, whether they have any particular expectations for the new client relationship you have established.'

If it is any comfort, clashes between senior and junior staff are often caused by poor leadership. Some bosses blame centralised human resources departments for 'dumping' unsuitable staff on them. And managers promoted for their technical ability may be completely lacking in interpersonal skills, a problem not unknown in the construction industry.

'Where this has happened, a mature person will see if they can help or guide their boss, ' says Shapiro, 'rather than resenting him or her and making both your lives miserable.

'It's worth remembering that you don't have to like each other to work well together, ' she adds.

Key points

Don't 'gang up' with colleagues against your boss

Ask yourself whether you are the cause of your workplace disharmony

Advertise your successes, without overtly bragging

Try helping an incompetent boss

If all else fails, you may have to find a new job

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