When you're trying to balance work and family, work and personal life, it's good to have an understanding and supportive boss. Someone who doesn't frown when you want to leave work early to attend your children's school event or when you ask for time off to take one of your parents to the doctor.
But what if your manager doesn't understand your family's responsibilities? Or worse, is your boss disrespectful or even hostile to your family matters? How do you deal with a boss who refuses to acknowledge your needs? How to find a way to be flexible? How much should you tell your boss about your family commitments?
While pay and opportunity for advancement remain the two main reasons people seek a new job, research shows that what ultimately pushes an employee to seek a new job is the frustration of feeling disrespected by their immediate supervisor.
Think of it this way: most professionals enjoy their job search as much as they enjoy going to the dentist. In order to spend the extra time and energy to change jobs, the pain has to be really bad.
However, if you don't get the respect you want, it's unfortunate because you let your boss treat you a certain way.
As Oprah Winfrey says:
You teach people how to treat you
From your first interaction with your current boss to now, you have set the tone for how you are treated at your job. The good news is that this can be changed. But in order to do that, you need to recognize certain patterns and be wisely assertive.
7 Warning Signs Your Boss Doesn't Respect You
Here is a list of warning signs that your boss doesn't necessarily respect you:
He calls you in a panic about an ASAP task, then says little
He often changes his mind about what you should work on
It asks you to check each task you have completed
He orders you to do unnecessary, tedious work
Constantly cancels and reschedules appointments with you
You must pursue him to get answers to your questions or get his formal approval
Ignores your ideas and doubts
There are more specific behaviors that are strong red flags. But if you recognize more than two of the above seven points that apply to you - it's safe to say that you have no respect from your boss.
And that means it's time to work on your communication strategy first. And if this does not bring improvement - seriously consider changing the boss or changing the workplace.
How to gain or regain the respect of the boss?
Here is a list of tips and hints on how to gain your boss's respect and how to build it through mature assertiveness.
Instead of complaining, try to change the situation
If you don't like something, first try to change it. If you can't change something, try changing your attitude. And only then, if these two steps do not bring any effect (because, for example, the environment in which you work is really toxic or your fundamental values are violated) - get ready to make a "turn on the heel", i.e. taking a new course in a different place.
Complaining and being passive at the same time is the worst possible choice. Think of it this way: when you try to change, you're really doing it for yourself. Even if you're afraid of it, or find it difficult, or hold onto the neat "it won't do anything" excuse.
Because it is precisely such acts of testing that strengthen us and make us gain a lot of self-respect.
Even if it fails, you will always be able to say with a clear conscience that you have made an attempt and have grounds to make a decision about a radical change. There will be no "what if" thinking. Plus, you might learn something new and valuable in the process. Also about myself. For example, about how much you can really afford.
As Polish Nobel Prize winner, Wisława Szymborska wrote:
We know as much about ourselves as we have been checked
First, understand the other party's perspective
It's not easy being a boss, especially now. Many managers are under a lot of pressure imposed on them from above. They are stressed, anxious, and trying to do more with less. What's more, the vast majority of your bosses are "not young" people who do not understand or do not want to understand the needs of generations Y and Z. And they do not necessarily care about the sociological changes that are taking place in the world. For them, the world is a company where they have been working for so many years. And for them, the business result is still the first thing that counts. Everything else is "naive".
So first look at the situation from your boss's perspective. And then talk to him. Or at least make an attempt.
It's good that your approach is both real and strategic. Ask your supervisor about his problems. Find out what troubles him, and what worries he has. Be honest - show that you care about him as a person. A smart boss will definitely notice this change in your attitude. Ask about his goals and KPIs he needs to achieve. This will help you understand the broader context of certain boss behaviors as well as focus first on the tasks your boss prioritizes.
Prepare more than one plan
Once you understand what is most important to your manager, you can plan your activities so that they focus on achieving the goals that are most important to your boss. Focus on the results. They are the ones that interest the boss the most - especially the stressed boss. Communicate your work progress actively and regularly. Let the boss know that "it's happening." But don't bother him by asking for details.
Also, don't make the mistake of filling your calendar to the ceiling. Adjust your plan so that there is always a reserve of time for unexpected events. Your Boss's Boss can also suddenly come up with a new priority. Instead of committing to 100% of your ability (as you know), commit to something that is 80% of you. Also, have at least one Plan B up your sleeve to answer the "what if?" question. or "What if?" And these questions should address the most critical elements of your original plan and the associated risks. In the Project Management methodology, this is referred to as "critical path" and "bottlenecks".
Don't be shy to remind your supervisor from time to time of your achievements in meeting agreed expectations. Your past performance is the strongest indicator of your future performance.
Know your rights
Get to know the Labor Law and the Labor Regulations applicable to your company. Carefully read all records regarding remote work or working in a hybrid model. If you are a mother or father of small children - be sure what kind of absence from work you are entitled to on this account.
Be 100% sure about the overtime regulations in your company.
Be aware of whether the employer can refuse you a holiday leave and whether it can recall you from such leave. Also, make sure your employer can expect you to do any work-related activities during your leave or sick leave.
If you often go on business trips - learn their rules carefully. Especially with regard to international business trips.
Be aware of how many hours a 24-hour break is and how many a weekend break is. That is how many hours of absolute break you are entitled to between individual working days in the week and on the weekend.
And please check it at the source. Don't take the easy way out by asking colleagues or doing a quick internet check. The more so that recently, especially in Poland, the regulations of the Labor Code have been changing relatively often. There are also many situations where the provisions were supposed to come into force, but in the end, they did not come into force. Such a "source" can be an experienced employee (and I emphasize experience) of the HR Department or the Personnel Administration Department.
However, do not try to shift your problem with a boss who does not respect your time to such a person. First, you would put that person in a difficult position by doing so. Secondly, from her perspective, it is impossible to solve the problems of all employees who have problems with their bosses. Thirdly: this is not her role and when you ask her only for substantive knowledge and an explanation of the regulations - she will be happy to provide you with such information.
If you are in a managerial position - disenchant the myth of the so-called "unlimited hours of work". For example, in the light of Polish law, it is not true that people with subordinates do not have the right to overtime.
Be clear about your boundaries at work
If your boss is a bully, setting and defending boundaries can be difficult. But still, the most important thing is that you yourself know your limits. Otherwise, you will really be the source of your problems.
Most conflicts and "bad blood" result from understatements, and omissions or are the results of improper, imprecise communication.
For example, if you work remotely or in a hybrid work model, clearly define the hours of your availability. If you are most effective in the morning - agree with your boss that you start work early in the morning. If your family duties require, for example, finishing work by a certain hour - also clearly communicate and discuss it.
And keep your promises about your availability for work. In this field absolutely do not combine, because it will undermine trust in you on the whole line.
As well as regularly remind you that you are focused on the agreed results and this is always the most important thing for you.
Don't check your e-mail after working hours. This is one of the biggest mistakes YOU make. You can't blame it on the boss.
Also, do not reply to company e-mails in the evenings or on weekends. Note that if you want respect, don't take it from yourself. If you communicate your limits to others and then break them yourself, who should you blame?
If you have to face a life situation (e.g. child's illness or family problems) - tell your boss openly about it. Even if you think he doesn't care. Because it will be worse for you if you don't say it, you will buckle under the weight of all the challenges and it will have a negative impact on achieving the agreed professional goals. What's more, the boss will be able to have a justified claim that you didn't tell him about it, and you will find it difficult to find an argument for such a statement.
So actively propose solutions that will help you cope with the existing life situation and still aim at achieving the professional goals agreed upon with the boss. This could be, for example, agreeing on you to be unavailable for 2 hours in the middle of the day and your longer work in the afternoon.
If such a plan works - it will increase the boss's trust in you. And on two levels. First of all, you were honest, you didn't hide anything. Second, you took matters into your own hands, found a solution, and kept your professional commitments. It makes you feel that you can be depended on.
Detailed tips on assertiveness and the ability to set healthy boundaries
For more in-depth guidance on how to set healthy boundaries, develop your assertiveness, and recognize and adjust your communication style, I invite you to read the following columns:
Consciously taking care of time only for yourself
Working for someone who doesn't respect your life outside of work can be exhausting, so make sure you consciously plan time for yourself in your private life. Imagine that you are a reservoir of energy. Each of us is such a reservoir. If the source is drained, then ... collapse. It is therefore necessary to consciously supplement and renew your energy.
Make regular time for reading, dancing, running, biking, hiking, yoga — or any other activity that you really enjoy or that helps you rejuvenate. You could say "consciously plan your joy".
And even if you don't like exercise, find a minimum of 30 minutes every other day for a brisk walk or any other form of moderate exercise. And most importantly - especially in a difficult period at work.
In the 21st century, we focus more and more on our heads and forget more and more about the rest of our bodies. It is impossible to count the amount of research and scientific evidence that physical movement is absolutely necessary for us to maintain health - both physical and mental health. Physical effort oxygenates our body (including the brain), reduces nervous system tension, releases endorphins, relaxes, improves digestion, strengthens the heart, strengthens immunity, affects the quality of sleep, also helps to get rid of negative emotions, etc., etc.
So don't give up on this very important element, which is even necessary to achieve balance and well-being in our lives.
What if your boss doesn't change his attitude towards you?
And if your attempts did not bring the expected results and the behavior of the boss did not change? Or it changed only for a while, and then everything returned to the previous "normal". Or you see some change but still feel frustration or slowly build anger. And what's more (this is important) - you can see that it may be different with another boss. Well... It's time for a change of boss.
Don't waste your time and cultivate self-respect. And out of respect for yourself, look for a better place that suits you. Change is painful, and growth is painful, but nothing hurts as much as staying in a place that is not ours.
https://www.inc.com/jt-odonnell/7-warning-signs-your-boss-disrespects-you.html https://hbr.org/2020/09/when-your-boss-doesnt-respect-your-family-commitments https://www.drcaitlinfaas.com/blog/how-to-get-your-boss-to-respect-your-boundaries