Q: Although she hasn’t said so directly, my new manager clearly has problems with my performance. “Ashley” contradicts me in public, disagrees with my decisions and excludes me from important conversations. Even though I’m 25 years older, she constantly tries to micromanage me.
I always received excellent evaluations from my previous bosses, so this treatment is hard to take. Ashley’s disrespect even shows in her body language. Recently, while I was leading a meeting, she intentionally placed her chair so that she was facing the participants with her back towards me. How can I work with someone like this?
A: Since you can’t undo Ashley’s promotion or change her personality, you need to focus on what you can control. Because any job is easier when you get along with the boss, developing a good relationship with her will be in your best interest. So, it’s time to think about “managing up.”
Start by objectively considering how you might be contributing to this situation. If we reverse your own examples, do you debate Ashley’s decisions, fail to consult her on key issues, have public disagreements or demonstrate your disregard for her in any way?
If so, your 25-year age gap might be part of the problem. Being supervised by someone much younger tends to feel uncomfortable, so older employees often respond by flaunting their knowledge, resisting change or talking reverently about the past. To young managers, this can seem disrespectful.
You should also be careful about looking too hard for slights. In your meeting, for instance, Ashley may have moved her chair simply to have a better view of the participants. Or she might have been trying to share the leadership role. Turning her back was not necessarily a personal affront.
Given that you are older and presumably more mature, perhaps you can take the initiative to reset this relationship. For example: “Ashley, I really want us to work well together, and I feel as though we may have gotten off on the wrong foot. What could I do to be more helpful to you?”
If Ashley has suggestions, make every effort to comply. And even though you would undoubtedly like to return the feedback, remember that your goal is to improve the relationship, not improve Ashley.
Q: I’m planning to retire in about seven months and I’m not sure when or how to tell my manager. In this day of emails and texts, what is the “correct” method of communicating my retirement? And how much notice should I give?
A: The “how” is simple. Once you’re firmly committed to a date, meet with your boss and explain your retirement decision. The two of you can then discuss any aspects of the transition that may affect your colleagues or your work.
The “when” requires a little more thought. Although you should give your manager time to plan, reversing a retirement decision could be difficult once a date is set. And while a long notice period might relieve work pressures, you may also have less influence and your colleagues may treat you differently. So before making a premature announcement, carefully evaluate your own needs.
Marie G. McIntyre is a workplace coach and the author of “Secrets to Winning at Office Politics.” Send in questions and get free coaching tips at www.yourofficecoach.com.