Is your boss right for you? How do you know when it’s time to leave? Unfortunately, questions like these are not uncommon in today’s workplace. At least half of Americans who quit their jobs did so to escape a bad manager and 68% of Europeans are seriously considering making career changes to improve their workplace dynamic.

“People leave managers, not companies.”

Much of the workplace environment, productivity, and work quality are dictated by the relationship individuals have with their manager. For people with a good relationship with their boss, the urge to want to meet and exceed expectations comes naturally. A bad relationship can drastically change your experience at work and your future with a company.

If your boss isn’t right for you, you likely find yourself taking this stress home and letting it affect other parts of your life. One study shows the average person spends a third of their life working — over 90,000 hours of your life. Fixing your relationship with your boss or finding a way to move on from that work environment becomes paramount once we realize just how big a part of our lives it is.

Reflect on your relationship

When a relationship sours or doesn’t begin on the right foot, it can be challenging to reflect and see our roles objectively. As much as we wouldn’t like to admit it, we can also be contributing to the negative state of a relationship. You should always ask yourself: Have I tried to improve the situation? Have I taken advice from colleagues? What would a neutral observer see? What is the percentage of the truth here?

But there are also circumstances when you’ve done what you could to improve the situation and are met with resistance the whole way. These can be the most difficult circumstances because you may not be the source of the problem and may not have support from HR if you decide to speak up about issues with your boss formally.

Don’t’ forget to take action

Escaping a bad relationship with your boss will vary according to your circumstances. Whether you decide to stay and try to mend your relationship or look for opportunities elsewhere, it’s important that you decide to take action.

How do you improve your relationship? The best path toward improving a relationship starts with good communication. Start a dialogue with your boss and be direct. Proactively ask your boss about their style and how they prefer to communicate, allowing you to deal with friction before it becomes an issue.

How do I improve myself? If your coworkers work well with your boss, ask them what they think you can improve on. Expect candid feedback and take the opportunity to learn the steps you can take to improve yourself.

When should you leave? You should start looking for a new job when you don’t see any potential for improvement in your current work dynamic. We can’t always control who we get to work with, but we can control what we do when faced with a situation that is no longer tenable.

What makes a good boss?

Understanding what makes a good boss starts with you. List the qualities you need from a boss to function at your best. We often suggest assessing some or all of the following when interviewing for a new role:

  • Communication style
  • Experience
  • Time at a company
  • Location
  • Leadership track record
  • Conflict management method
  • Detail oriented vs big picture

There are more qualities to consider when assessing a new boss, but they will vary according to what is important to you.

Starting with you

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