Advertising
Advertising

Career Hints – 5 ways to overcome a disagreement with your supervisor

Career Hints – 5 ways to overcome a disagreement with your supervisor

Most of us have experienced a disagreement with our supervisor at some point in our careers. While these events may seem traumatic at the time, the reality is that if you handle the situation correctly it may actually be beneficial, because our actions show that we can negotiate our way through difficult situations and arrive at mutually acceptable outcomes.

1. Define the problem

Have you ever had one of those moments where you argue about everything except the issue in question? You’re certainly not alone.

When you’re in a position of disagreement, the first and most important thing to do is to take a moment to reflect and identify the core issue(s). Be objective; sit down with a piece of paper and write out everything you think is an issue, then rank the most to least important. The real issue is usually looking right back at you from the top of the list.

notepad-411030_640

    External validation is valuable. Find a trusted colleague or friend, explain the situation, and show them the top three items on your list. Ask what they would focus on, and listen hard to their answers to decide if you’d change your ranking.

    Advertising

    Sometimes the list technique also helps us to understand that we’re just over-reacting and there is no core problem that needs to be addressed. If so, perhaps having a discussion with your trusted colleague or friend is a good idea. They may have some insights to share.

    Remember, 90% of conflict is just inadequate or ineffective communication. By defining the problem, you may find that you’re just not communicating well; a relatively easy and short term problem to fix.

    2. Find Common Ground

    “I think in most relationships that have problems, there’s fault on both sides. And in order for it to work, there has to be some common ground that’s shared. And it’s not just one person making amends.” – Michael Gary Scott from “The Office”.

    For every two things you and your supervisor disagree on there are probably twenty that you actually do agree on. Focus on the common ground first, then start talking about the points of disagreement in a safe and private forum, rather than just going into whatever it is that’s making you feel reactive.

    Often the points of agreement mediate the points of disagreement; for example, you may not agree on a specific item of the dress code, but you do agree on the need for the company to be professional and successful. Bring out your support for professionalism as a mediating factor for your disagreement about the item of clothing and the conversation will be more productive. Who knows? Maybe both parties can find things they can change.

    Advertising

    3. See the Other Point of View

    “The war… was an unnecessary condition of affairs, and might have been avoided if forbearance and wisdom had been practiced on both sides.” – General Lee.

    Your supervisor has a point of view. By actively listening to them express that point of view, you are signaling a willingness to listen and engage, as well as a respect for their authority. You don’t have to agree with what they are saying, but you do need to listen and take their view into account.

    prismatic-736578_640

      If you’ve already identified what you believe the core problem is, you might test the waters to see if your supervisor agrees with your number one issue being the primary area of concern. If they don’t, then you need to add their concerns to the list of issues you made to consider their points.

      4. Set Boundaries

      “All compromise is based on give and take, but there can be no give and take on fundamentals. Any compromise on mere fundamentals is a surrender. For it is all give and no take.” – Mahatma Gandhi.

      ball-sports-443274_640

        There are things you and your supervisor will not agree on. These usually include illegal situations such as sexual harassment and discrimination, but you may have ethical boundaries of your own that you simply cannot cross. Know what these are, and keep them in the forefront of your mind as you talk to your supervisor.

        5. Escalate if Absolutely Necessary

        “Between an uncontrolled escalation and passivity, there is a demanding road of responsibility that we must follow.” – Dominique de Villepin

        Most companies offer several ways of resolving conflict between supervisors and workers, including employee assistance programs (EAP), human resources intervention, and even third party mediators, that can all be valuable resources when you feel like you are “stuck”.

        I rarely recommend going “up the chain” to your supervisor’s supervisor because this can be seen as an aggressive move that puts your supervisor into the complex position of having to manage both you and their boss – a situation sure to cause conflict in itself.

        Advertising

        Employees often do well to start with an off the record discussion with their Employee Assistance Program to help them frame their thoughts, before working with human resources to address the issue. The only exception to this case is when you believe something illegal is occurring in which case it is your obligation to notify HR or your internal compliance officer immediately.

        The role of HR is to take both the company’s and the employee’s interests and attempt to mediate a mutually acceptable solution wherever possible. It’s a complex role where you can’t make everyone happy, and skillful practitioners are in high demand.

        Remember your HR representative is a person who should be treated with respect if you expect them to work on your behalf.  Outbursts of emotion should be checked at the door, and your best chance of resolution is being seen as willing to work with your supervisor to find mutually acceptable outcomes.

        To Sum Up

        “Human beings are born solitary, but everywhere they are in chains – daisy chains – of interactivity. Social actions are makeshift forms, often courageous, sometimes ridiculous, always strange. And in a way, every social action is a negotiation, a compromise between ‘his,’ ‘her’ or ‘their’ wish and yours.” – Andy Warhol

        Featured photo credit: pixabay via pixabay.com

        Advertising

        More by this author

        Colin Rhodes

        Chief Technology Officer

        travel 12 Dos and Don’ts of Air Travel For Conscientious Travellers 5 Ways To Have A More Productive Doctor’s Visit Life Secrets of a Barista Why You Should Be Tracking Your Health in a Personal Health Record agreeement Career Hints – 5 ways to overcome a disagreement with your supervisor

        Trending in Career Advice

        1 The Lifehack Show: Standing Out in Today’s Job Market with Dr. Julia Ivy 2 Clueless On Your Career? Sabbatical vs. Career Break 3 10 Essential Career Change Questions To Ask Yourself This Year 4 10 Job Search Tools Every Jobseekers Need To Know About 5 If You Have This Key Behavior, You’ll Be More Successful Than 90% Of People

        Read Next

        Advertising
        Advertising
        Advertising

        Last Updated on July 10, 2020

        Feeling Stuck in Your Career? How to Break Free and Get Ahead

        Feeling Stuck in Your Career? How to Break Free and Get Ahead

        Have you ever caught yourself in a daydream where you’ve gone for that upcoming promotion, and you’re now the boss at work? Or how about the one where you’ve summoned up all your courage to quit a job where you’re feeling stuck in your career and live your dream instead? Or when you’ve changed career paths to do what really makes you happy?

        Then, you snapped back to reality and realized that you’re not the boss, not living your dream, and not even happy in the career path that you’re on.

        Over the years I’ve worked with hundreds of individuals who’ve told me they feel stuck in their careers, that something had to change for them to break free and be happy, but they lacked the confidence to take that step. My mission is to make sure that nobody feels stuck in their career because of a momentary lapse in bravery that’s dragged on for too long.

        Read on to find out how you can stop feeling stuck in your career, break free, and get ahead at work. .

        Here are my top ten tips for becoming unstuck in your career.

        1. Make Time for You

        If you’re feeling stuck, frustrated, or unhappy with how your career is panning out, the first step is to work out why.

        Maybe you’ve arrived in your current career by accident and haven’t ever made time to deliberately think or plan what you’d love to do and how you’d get there.

        Prioritizing time to think is the first step you need to take to stop feeling stuck and start getting ahead. Book some time into your day where you can have an uninterrupted meeting with yourself. This is your thinking time.

        Work out what makes you happy at work, what doesn’t, and where you might want to go. Decide on the steps you want to take to progress your career in the direction that you want it to take.

        For example, are there training days, evening courses, or online learning that you can do? Have you considered getting a mentor to help you get ahead?

        By booking in a meeting with yourself, it signals it’s important (to you and your colleagues) and also stops others spotting a gap in your day and filling it with a meeting.

        Advertising

        2. Grow Your Network Before You Need It

        Who you know is more important than what you know for career progression. Don’t wait until you’re feeling stuck in your career to start expanding your networks. Do it now.

        Adam Grant, the author of Give and Take, says you’re 58% more likely to get a new job through your weak ties than through your strong ones. Your strong ties are those in your immediate circle whom you interact with often. Your weak ties are your friends of friends. They move in different circles to you, they know different people, make different connections, and are more likely to introduce you to new and different opportunities[1].

        When I was thinking about setting up my current company, Lucidity, I turned up to every networking event. I drank a lot of coffees with a lot of different people to understand what they did, to ask for advice, to unpick what their problems were, and to look for opportunities for collaboration and connections.

        It paid off because, when I launched my business, I let my network know how I could help them, and soon I had my first clients.

        Pay attention to building and nurturing your networks and focus on how you can add value to other. That’s where your next career opportunity is most likely to come from.

        3. Surround Yourself With People Who Inspire You

        According to Tim Ferriss, “You are the average of the five people you most associate with,” and his associations with different people ebbs and flows depending on what he’s working on and trying to achieve[2].

        For example, if you are trying to be fitter, it’s easier if you hang around with people who love doing exercise–they help you to up your game.

        If you want that promotion, a career change, or to set up your own business, seek out people who are excelling at it already. They’ll have valuable things to teach you about breaking free and getting ahead.

        4. Work on Your Personal Brand

        Jeff Bezos defines a personal brand as “what people say about you when you’re not in the room.” People will talk about you when you are not in the room anyway, so you might as well be deliberate about what you’d like people to say!

        Your personal brand isn’t about pretending to be something you’re not. That can actually keep you feeling stuck in your career. It’s really about being your best “real you.” It’s about owning your strengths and being purposeful about how you want to be perceived by others.

        What do you want to be known for? By being more deliberate about how you want to come across and what you’re looking for in your career, you’ll increase your chance of attracting the right opportunities.

        Advertising

        Once you’ve given your personal brand some thought, make sure that you show up online. Is your LinkedIn profile up to date? And if you don’t have one, get one. Make sure it communicates what you want to be known for and that it’s consistent with your other social media profiles.

        Try these 5 Steps to Master Networking Skills and Perfect Your Personal Branding.

        5. Be Accountable

        Achieve your career goals faster, and grow and learn by making yourself accountable. Tell other people your goals and a timeline. and have them to hold you accountable.

        For example, you might want to get a promotion by the end of the year, have decided the sector you want to move to by the end of the month, or have got your new business idea before the next pay day. Whatever your ambitions are, you can tell a friend or a colleague, or share this with a mentor or a mastermind group.

        When we tell other people our goals and intentions, they hold us accountable, and we are more likely to make progress faster.

        6. Make Sure Your Values Are Aligned With Your Company’s

        All the professional development, goal setting, and networks in the world won’t make you happy if you’re working for a company that ultimately has opposing values to yours.

        Figure out what’s important to you in a job. For example, does your company’s product help people live a better life? Do you feel strongly about your company’s ethics and social responsibility? Does the company culture allows employees to be themselves and shine? Or maybe flexible working and more holidays for employees with families is where your heart is?

        Some companies put their employees well-being at the core of their business; others put profits first. If you feel that your values don’t match the core values of your employer, it could be a reason why you’re feeling stuck in your career and unhappy.

        It’s important to work through this and identify whether it’s the job that is not right for you, or if it’s a great job but the organization or sector is wrong for you.

        7. Get out of Your Comfort Zone

        Your comfort zone is your safe place. For any change to happen, you have to step out of your comfort zone.

        It’s actually much easier not to change anything and to keep grumbling on about how you’re stuck and unhappy in your career than to step outside of your comfort zone to address the fearful unknowns associated with change. It’s part of human nature that we’d put up with the devil we know rather than risk the devil we don’t.

        Advertising

        This is true even if the devil we know is a boring, unfulfilling job because we’re wired to think that making a change to find a better option might actually leave us worse off.

        If you feel stuck, it might be that your confidence has got the better of you.

        To get ahead at work, start taking small steps outside of your comfort zone. Consider what you’re scared of that is stopping you from making a change. Then, tackle that in small steps.

        For example, if you know that to move into the job you want, you’ll have to do more public speaking, but public speaking terrifies you so much it’s stopping you from going for the job, then start small to build your confidence. You can speak up more in team meetings, then slowly build from there.

        You might also choose to set up or be part of a specific group. One of my clients, who found that confidence was holding her team back in achieving work goals, set up a “get out of your comfort zone club,” where they challenge and support each other to build their confidence by regularly leaving their comfort zones.

        8. Learn to Embrace Failure

        Failure is part of life. A New York University study found that children learning to walk averaged 2,368 steps and fell 17 times an hour[3]. Failure is simply the natural path to success.

        The truth is that we don’t get everything right the first time. We fail, we learn, we pick ourselves up, and we try again.

        In my experience, it’s common that whilst the theory of learning from failure is supported, the reality of being open about failures to enable personal learning is much harder to achieve.

        We don’t like to admit that we’ve failed. We have a fight or flight response to failure. It’s a normal gut reaction to ask ourselves: “Will I get away with it if I don’t tell anyone?” We are fearful of criticism, of losing face in front of others, or even being fired for failure.

        However, if you’re going to stop feeling stuck in your career, you must be open to learning from failure.

        Reframe failure by viewing everything as an experiment because you can’t have a failed experiment—you just learn whether something works or not. Think of Edison inventing the lightbulb, when he said:

        Advertising

        “I’ve not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

        9. Build Your Resilience

        Resilience is the ability to tackle difficulties and setbacks, to bounce back, regroup, and to keep going.

        Getting unstuck in your career, taking a different path, and achieving the results you want will take resilience. Having resilience is also the capacity to choose how you respond to the unexpected things that life throws your way and adapt and thrive in times of complex change.

        Given that the world we live in is in constant flux, and the only thing that is certain is uncertainty, the ability to adapt and bounce back is an important life skill, as well as a career skill.

        In her book Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, Angela Duckworth’s research shows that when measuring success, the ability to persevere beats talent every time.

        Learn more about how to build resilience in this guide: What Is Resilience and How to Always Be Resilient (Step-By-Step Guide)

        10. Ask for Help

        It can be hard to ask for help, as it can make us feel vulnerable.

        No one person can be expected to have all the answers. That’s why we need a group of people that we can go to for help, people who can pick us up when we have setbacks and also help us to celebrate success.

        My advice is to be deliberate about creating your group. You can do that with a tool called a “Me Map”:

        1. Write down all the things that you might need support with, like help with career progression, interview practice, making new connections, talking through business plans, learning from failure, etc.
        2. Next to each thing, write the names of the people you go to when you need that particular thing.
        3. Make sure you get in touch and regularly connect with them.

        Final Thoughts

        You can stop feeling stuck in your career, break free, and get ahead at work by applying the tips in this article. Start small by incorporating three new things in your first week, and then adding more as your comfort zone and capacity expands.

        Remember, no matter how stuck you feel, it’s never too late to make a change and land the career that you truly want.

        More Tips to Stop Feeling Stuck in Your Career

        Featured photo credit: NEW DATA SERVICES via unsplash.com

        Reference

        Read Next