M: Tricia works in an advertising firm and she feels her potential is curtailed because her boss sees her as competition. Before she does anything, she first has to validate her feelings. I do not think it is wise to immediately assume that her boss is threatened by her talent. While it’s possible, blaming the other person for not getting what one thinks is due can sometimes be an “entitlement mentality” plaguing many today.
DJ: I’ve worked with many bosses—both good and challenging—but the worst I’ve encountered is the insecure one. There really are fearful bosses who are spooked by competent subordinates. They prefer weak ones they can control. It’s tough to work hard and still have to walk on eggshells around a boss who never seems approving of anything one does.
M: Potential means you have something in yourself that can be developed. Tricia says she has potential, and a recognition of that is the first step of knowing what she can do. So why not do something about the potential that you see in yourself to prove to yourself and to others that you have what it takes to get the job done and to do it well, instead of whining about other people’s attitude toward you? Strive to improve yourself in everything that you do. If your boss is wise, he or she will recognize what an asset you are and mentor you so your efforts at work will be mutually benefiting and collaborative.
DJ: Tricia can also work on regularly collaborating with her boss for direction or clarification on key matters so both can feel they’re on the same side. This helps in managing her boss’ desire to maintain importance, and her need to feel competent. This might just even reduce the times Tricia gets micromanaged. I also suggest for Tricia to find productive ways to handle her frustrations like taking a walk on lunch breaks or to just be quiet. While she should not engage in gossip, a family or friend outside work to talk about what’s going on helps. Linking her success to her boss can make a difference too. At the end of the day, her boss still has lessons to teach her, even from being a bad manager.
M: Tricia, maybe your boss has high standards and wants to push you to do better because there is a creative force that can be unleashed. Maybe your boss sees that while you have the potential, it still needs a lot of refining. As they say, gold is tested through fire. Maybe your boss thinks that you think too highly of yourself and needs to put you back to your senses. Whatever it is, all these assumptions are just assumptions until you are able to communicate to your boss to know what is the real deal.
DJ: Keeping up one’s self- esteem when it’s under attack is critical. It’s important that she’ll never let her insecure boss rock her belief in herself. Keep fanning the flame of excellence and grit even if sometimes its heat may be a little too intense for others.