Q. When I joined the small business where I work as a salesperson, I expected to eventually become department manager. With that in mind, I proposed some changes that would expand our market and increase sales. Although the owner seemed to like my suggestions, she never followed through.
A few months ago, I was shocked to learn that a sales manager had been hired from outside the company. The new hire immediately began implementing the very changes I had suggested. The owner acknowledged that these were my ideas, so I asked why I had been passed over for the management job.
Her initial response was that she needed my talents in the sales position. Then she told me that I expect everyone to do things my way, which she said is not a good quality for a manager to have. She said I should treat my colleagues as I do my customers. How should I interpret this feedback?
A. Let me attempt to translate: Your manager appreciates both your sales ability and your helpful ideas. However, based on your co-worker relationships, she feels you are not yet ready to manage people. Her primary concern is that you seem locked into your own way of thinking and resistant to other views.
If management is your goal, then you should take this feedback seriously. Great bosses can effectively supervise a wide variety of personalities, including people whose opinions and approaches differ from their own. The good news, however, is that you may already possess this ability.
As a successful salesperson, you can undoubtedly relate well to many different types of customers. If you begin putting equal effort into colleague relationships, your manager may eventually change her mind.
Q. My boss does a great job of running the office, but seems to have trouble regulating her emotions. “Diane” frequently rolls her eyes and sighs condescendingly when people are talking to her. She also responds irritably to relatively minor issues.
Although Diane does this with everybody, I’m the only one who has objected. I recently informed her that these immature behaviors were interfering with her stated goal of improving our communication. She replied that we needed to find a mediator.
I think Diane is missing the point, because there is no conflict to be mediated. I’m just tired of her negative emotional reactions. How should I handle this?
A. Diane is not the only one missing the point. Based on your own description, she is not a horrid manager, just an annoying one. So the real issue is your inability to accept her imperfections.
If I were talking to Diane, I would strongly suggest making her feelings less obvious. But since I can’t change her behavior, I hope that I can alter yours. Giving orders to the boss seldom works out well, so continuing this confrontational criticism would be a major career blunder.
Instead of focusing on Diane’s emotions, you should try to control your own.
Marie G. McIntyre is a workplace coach and the author of “Secrets to Winning at Office Politics.”