Are You Having Problems with Your Manager?



Are you having issues with your manager/supervisor? You are not alone. This can be something you can easily overcome once you identify the problem and establish a plan to be an active participant in creating a better workplace atmosphere.

Leaders vs. Managers

Managers regulate and control processes and procedures. Leaders use their communication skills, great examples, and honest stewardship to lead people to certain objectives. It can be difficult reporting to people who are more of a manager than they are a leader.

Is the person to whom you report a leader or a manager? Knowing which one applies to your manager can help you better navigate the relationship. If you are having issues with your manager, there are a few things you can do to improve the relationship or figure out if you may need to move on to be in a better, healthier environment.

Navigating the Waters

Figuring out what is expected of you starts with communicating with your manager. If you have not done so, learn your manager’s communication style. Does she/he prefer face-to-face, emails, or telephone conversations? Does your manager need constant updates on every step you take in a process, or do they prefer weekly or monthly updates? It is also essential to know if your manager wants detailed in depth facts or would they rather for you to get directly to the core of the information. It is essential to recognize and understand your manager’s communication style. By recognizing, understanding and obliging to your manager’s communication style can make for a better working relationship.

When Issues Arise

No workplace is perfect. Issues will arise. How you approach and handle issues will ultimately determine your success with the organization.

When you recognize there are issues with your manager, start writing things down in a journal. This will allow you to create an outlet for your feelings, and you will have a chronological record of events. It will help you reflect, strategize, plan for improvement and prepare for any changes that need to be made. Write it down and release it.

Request to meet with your manager to discuss your concerns. Prepare for your initial meeting by making a short list of topics you would like to discuss. Try to list no more than three (3) issues in your initial meeting. In my past experience, when I would send a meeting request, I would send a copy of my list of topics to my manager so that they as well could prepare for the meeting. Most reasonable people will appreciate this gesture.

When Addressing Issues

As important as the issues are, any proposed suggestions you have should be addressed. Try not to make the meetings a tattle-tale session.

Prepare for the meeting by having questions for each topic you have listed, along with some viable suggestions of your own to address each matter. Meetings without any suggestions for resolutions may possibly make you appear part of the problem as a complainer. Prepare some questions regarding your manager’s expectations. Ask about your progress and talk about goals.

When going through your list, try not to make it personal and provide only the facts with clear and concise examples. Try to keep your emotions at bay. This will be the hardest part, so perhaps you can practice with a friend who is in management from another company. Avoid placing blame on any one person and try to pinpoint the issues based on the tasks.

If your issue is related to how your manager communicates with you, it would be best to frame the issue as if you are seeking advice from them to improve the communication between you and them. Then ask if they are open to any suggestions before sharing how the issue can be addressed and/or resolved. It is very important to let your manager know what you are working on and ask if they have suggestions, even if you feel as though it is unwarranted.

Resolution may not happen in one meeting. If you are not currently doing so, request a thirty (30) minute weekly meeting to continue to work on any open issues and to keep your manager updated.

One of the objectives is to find out where your professional track is headed and if it is worth staying with the company.

Record in your journal all activities you execute as part of your goal to help your situation.

Other Things You Can Do

Although meeting with your manager is a great starting point, your efforts may not work if there are underlining issues that are out of your control. During this process, there are some other things you should do.


If you absolutely must speak to someone in the workplace regarding your issues, always speak to someone in a higher position than your manager; preferably someone who can act as a mentor to you within the organization.

If your talks with your manager are not working, then request a meeting with their manager. In this particular meeting, you are asking for suggestions on particular issues.

Venting to a peer will serve no purpose in addressing the real issues.


If your company has an EAP as part of your benefits, I suggest you utilize it. It is private and confidential. You can request to speak to a professional such as a Career Specialist or even a Psychologist if you are having problems dealing with unrest in the workplace.


As you are doing all of the items suggested or if you find things are not moving in a positive direction, update your resume and, as discreetly as possible, start applying to other organizations.


As employees sometimes are not a good fit for companies, sometimes managers are not a good fit, and you must protect yourself by seeking an amicable resolution or other employment. Your journal may be able to show your efforts in addressing issues. Keep your journal extremely private. Your journal should be for your eyes and knowledge only.

When the process works, it will be a building block for a very productive and successful professional relationship.

Written byFonda Dusé,

Principal Human Resource Business Partner/CEO

iHR Pro, LLC

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  1. Awesome article..great information…I love that Marcia Black is sharing this information with her high school students.

  2. This article gives very good and sound advise I have used many of your suggestions in the past with a very difficult management situation although it took some time in the end everything turned out to be in my favour. This is a helpful guide for some it may appear they have no were to turn or may not know how to proceed I would advise them to use these steps as part of their process. Thank you and I look forward to reading more from you in the future.

  3. Exceptional insight! Both well formatted and instructional for those on either end of the employment.and workplace spectrum. While most helpful things are never spoken , its nice to see something helpful written. Bravo!!!

  4. Very useful information. It needs to be distributed and discussed during meetings throughout the year. Employees need to learn proper procedure and a reason behind some actions.

  5. Great information Miss Duse! I teach high schoolers and will incorporate this article in my class concerning employment. Many do not know the etiquette concerning how to deal with issues at work and just quit out of immaturity and lack of knowledge.

    • Thank you Ms. Black. Please feel free to share the link. The. Onyx Woman Network has great informative career related articles from becoming an entrepreneur to style and fashion. Explore the site. I’m sure you will enjoy it.


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