Do You Have an Impossible manager?

Apr 11 21:00 2004 Susan Dunn, MA, Emotional Intelligence Coach Print This Article

When you have an ... manager, quit? ... that’s ... If you find yourself in this ... here are eleven things you should ... ... ... else is excell

When you have an impossible manager,Guest Posting quit? Sometimes that’s impossible. If you find yourself in this situation, here are eleven things you should consider.

1.Company culture
2.Everything else is excellent
3.Your outlook
4.Are you in the loop?
5.Age and career potential of the manager
6.Support, life skills
7.Change departments or jobs


This may be the single most important thing. I’ve visited many offices and each one had its own distinct culture. All companies have the same policies and procedures handbook, basically, because it has to do with legal, but it’s the unwritten rules that dictate.

I can recall some where hostility seemed to be the policy. You could cut the tension with a knife. This will make the company ultimately dysfunctional, but that won’t mitigate the potential damage to your health if you remain. Don’t think “This place is really sick … but I’ll be fine.” It doesn’t work that way.

If you haven’t worked in a lot of different places, or are new to your career, you may not be aware of how distinct this particular culture is or how ingrained it is. Like attracts like, and the people who hire will continue hiring people like themselves, so it will get worse, not better. Therefore there’s little hope you’ll get a better manager when this one leaves.

Understand that you aren’t going to be changing it all by yourself. Your choices are to leave, or to get support and build your lifeskills to deal with the situation. However, understand it’s going to prevail, and will impact your life negatively. Consider carefully what you’re getting out of it that could possibly make up for that.


I’ve only heard this comment from someone relatively new to a job. You can count on the fact that after a certain point of time, the negatives will outweigh the positives, but here’s the way to handle that.

“I love my job,” my client Dominica told me. “It has the sort of challenge and variety I love. I’ve never had such latitude. It’s a place where I can gain the skills I need to move to the next level. I get to speak to civic groups a couple of times every week, and there’s even live TV and radio. Where else could I get this? The only thing wrong is Harry and his nit-picking, micro-managing. He’s the only thing that holds me back.” She went on to glow about the working conditions, good equipment, and benefits.

If it’s a position that will move your career path forward and you’re acquiring excellent skills, what should you do? Consider it a temporary position, get the skills you need, see point 6, and be looking all the time for your next career move. Chances are you will get enough good out of the situation to balance the negatives.

Do not get lulled into staying there. A bad manager will ultimately cause more harm than good.


Your attitude, optimism and mindfulness are crucial. You must be clear about what’s going on. You must be able to see what the manager is feeding into the equation so you can keep it separate.

It’s possible to last out a bad situation temporarily if you are equipped to deal with it mentally and emotionally. If you’re truly stuck in a bad situation for a while, use your emotional intelligence. (More on this later.) Keep your own thoughts positive. Resist all urges to become cynical and pessimistic. This is not as easy as it sounds, and don’t underestimate it. Consider the job temporary and stick to that policy. Rarely have I talked to someone who really “must” stay where they are. It’s only their perception of things.

Be willing to consider the gains and losses. Often someone staying in a bad situation is considering the money. Eventually you will discover what your health – mental and physical – are worth.

If there’s something there that’s meaningful to you it will help.

I’m thinking of a client I’ll call Linda. She was forced to move to another country and take an inferior job when her husband received a promotion and transfer they couldn’t pass up. After coaching she said to me, “I understand now if I let this be the excuse for not achieving, that will become a pattern.” She quit feeling sorry for herself and started working with what was possible.


One thing that can make a bad manager tolerable is if there is a loop of the other persuasion and you’re in it. A client I’ll call Maria-Marthe found herself in such a situation. There was a core group working for an incompetent and disparaging manager.
They could give each other “consensual validation” about what was going on. There is strength in numbers.

In this case, while you won’t change some things about the manager, your group can bring pressure to bear that will make what the manager has in mind more difficult to achieve. If you do this, you can expect the manager to become more difficult, as he or she perceives something’s going on he or she isn’t in control of, but your daily work life may be better.


Most of us looking to get ahead will consider this first thing. Who’s ahead of me that might be blocking the way? In this case you want to know how long this person will likely be there.

If the manager is young and new, they may not last. Actually these days anyone “new” may not last, regardless of age.

If they have some experience under their belt and seem interested in promoting themselves, they’ll probably be moving on and up.

If they are middle-aged, have been there a while, and are dug in like a tick, consider that they will endure and you will not.

If you use your gut instincts, you can tell who is on-the-move, and who has moved in to stay. You can also tell how important this particular manager is to those above him or her. If they are liked by superiors, and a confrontation should occur, they’ll be staying and you’ll be leaving.

Paying attention to things like this will make a difference in your career.


Whatever your job, whatever your manager, you need support and you need to develop your emotional intelligence. Any difficult or challenging situation is more tolerable if you have resilience, creativity, interpersonal skills, and a support network.

Hiring a coach at this time can move you light years ahead. Using a coach, an outside expert advisor, will help you interpret the situation realistically. If you work with a certified emotional intelligence coach, you will also acquire a set of competencies with beneficial long-term results. This will not be the last difficult situation you face in your career.


If the problem goes with you, it’s you and you need to get some coaching!

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Susan Dunn, MA, Emotional Intelligence Coach
Susan Dunn, MA, Emotional Intelligence Coach

©Susan Dunn, MA, Certified Emotional Intelligence Coach, . I teach individuals emotional intelligence through individual and group coaching, workshops, Internet courses and ebooks – ). A total program for personal and professional development. for FREE ezine. I train and certify emotional intelligence coaches. Email me for information.

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