“Oh no! My boss is picking on me!”

This post is by Diane Katz, who started her consulting company, The Working Circle, in 1995. The Working Circle provides organizational development, executive coaching, teambuilding, and training to organizations. The Working Circle, the process that Diane developed, assists groups and individuals in making decisions and resolving conflicts. Her book is, “Win at Work! The Everybody Wins Approach to Conflict Resolution.” Lately, are you feeling like your boss is singling you out for criticism or bad assignments? Working in conditions like that are really uncomfortable. So what can you do? First, find out if your perception is accurate. Here are a few things to do:
  • Observe if others are experiencing the same thing – do not complain, just listen to what others are saying. If your boss really is picking on you, complaining will make it worse.
  • Look at your relationship with your manager – have you been outspoken, negative, reluctant to be a team member? If so (and you really need to be honest with yourself), shift your behavior immediately, and become more positive.
  • If, after answering the previous questions, you still think your boss is being unfair with you, look at why this might be happening – is it prejudice, is it your relationship with a peer of your boss’, were you up for the job that your boss ultimately got? If your answer is “yes” to this group of questions, there are steps to take. Read on, and help is on the way.
If you truly believe that your boss is singling you out, here are some steps to take:
  • Do not complain to peers – this will likely get back to your boss.
  • If prejudice is suspected, and you have an HR department, go and talk to them in confidence, and ask for advice, and what steps should be taken next. Request confidentiality, and that no action be taken without you knowing ahead of time.
  • Ask to have a meeting with your boss. DO NOT say you think you are being picked on. DO say something like, “I really want to succeed here – how can I improve my performance?” Also offer what assignments you would really like, and ask how you can get them, in addition to (or instead of) the work you have already been assigned. If you get real answers, listen, and follow through with improved performance. If you get answers that do not sound real, thank your boss. It might be time to either wait for HR to follow through or look for another position.
  • No matter what happens, maintain a positive approach to your work, coworkers, and management. A negative person always gathers blame!
  • Do your job! Although issues are brewing, and you are trying to figure things out, the best course is to do your job.
  • If your manager sends emails or says things that are prejudicial, record them, and keep a log. When a manager is truly prejudiced, nothing helps more than a record of conversations that are harmful. Then it is not “he said, she said,” it is a matter of record.
  • If a peer tells you that he/she thinks that the boss is picking on you, ask why you think it is happening. Report that conversation back to HR (after telling your peer that you will do so).
Keep calm, stay positive, and do your job so no one has a complaint about you!
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