Career Development – Dealing With A Boss Who Feels Jealous.

Career Development – Dealing With A Boss Who Feels Jealous.

 Wendy MasonCareer Coach and author of The WiseWolf Job Search Pocket Book: How to Win Friends and Influence Recruiters  due to be published in September 2014

Bosses like all of us, can come with the whole range of human emotions and one of them might be jealousy.

Imagine it! There is your boss, a senior manager who has worked hard to get to that level. He/she is good at what they do and they know it. But they are not always sure those above appreciate them. Then, along comes this bright young team member. It appears to the boss that for them everything comes effortlessly. Those parts of the work that the boss finds difficult, the newcomer finds easy. Plus the boss’s own boss has begun already to notice how good the new person is.

Can you see how a jealous boss might begin to emerge?

And what happens?

Here is what the boss might consider. “Should we put them to work in some obscure corner on something that will give them no opportunity to shine? Or should we find fault with everything they do, so that in due course their confidence is destroyed? Should we start to niggle away about the faults they do have, being bright but young and inexperienced? We could sow the seeds of doubt couldn’t we? Of course, all these are risky strategies and make the whole team feel bad. But surely it is worth it to protect our own position and our own sensitive ego.”

The trouble is that, sadly, there are bosses around who make these kinds of bad choices.

How should you respond, if you begin to suspect your boss is feeling jealous?

First, direct confrontation rarely works, particularly if you need to keep the job. In most organizations, unless it is a clear case of bullying, the benefit of the doubt will usually be given to the more senior party. Calling on the support of your senior contacts against your boss could well rebound. They may not thank you for it, particularly if they value your boss for their technical abilities or they have a good record.

Jealousy is usually shown in quite subtle ways in the early stages. But if you begin to suspect it, the best approach is usually to make your boss feel included. They need to believe that even though you have it in you to upstage them, you will never do so.

Show your boss that you respect their expertise and ask for their advice. It might be difficult for you at first because you feel that you too are an expert. But it will help to build your relationship.

Work on making your boss look good. Be ready to have your ideas presented as theirs. Keep your own records in cases which could present a serious breach of intellectual property. But be ready to give some of the lesser stuff away or at least be ready to share it.

If you have contacts higher up the office be ready to share them with your boss. And if your boss has unsung talents, make sure your senior contacts know about them.

Turn yourself into an asset for your boss, and not a threat.

If you do find yourself relegated to the dreary corner, see what you can do to brighten things up. In most kinds of work there is some opportunity to make a positive mark if you look for it.

If at the end of the day, you are not able to influence your boss and you feel your own reputation is at real risk, think about moving on. A good brand once damaged is hard to recover and that goes for personal brands too. You don’t want to risk long-term damage your good reputation.

Meanwhile here is some advice for bosses who might be just a little bit jealous!

Take bright young team member and put them to work on the area of work that you are not good at. Then, praise them, encourage them and you make sure your boss knows that you spotted the talent and that you have incredible management abilities.

Coaches really can help in this kind of situation and I would love to talk to you. 

Warm regards 

UK: +44 (0) 2081239146 
US: +1 262 317 9016 
Mobile: +44 (0) 7867681439 IM: wendymason14 (Skype) 
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