Several years ago, I got a new manager. I had a good working relationship with my former manager, and the announcement of the new manager came as a surprise to me. However, I had worked in organizations, where shift in manager was part of the everyday life, so I was convinced that it would work and I met my new boss with a positive mind.
It did not go well. My new manager was completely different from my former manager, and where I used to agree with the manager’s considerations, analyses and advice, I strongly disagreed with my new manager. I believed he was not skilled, his positions were old-fashioned and his attitude was annoying. He challenged and changed many of my decisions, practiced micro-management and performed his manager role fundamental differently than my former manager. Over time, it became hard for me to work with him. I experienced lack of confidence despite my success in my business unit and the situation became unbearable.
I considered leaving the company; however, I was quite satisfied with my job and the company, so I decided to keep on fighting. Despite my positive approach, the situation became worse, and my manager initiated a meeting to discuss the situation. Before the meeting, I decided to resign if he continued his annoying manner.
The meeting lasted more than five hours. And against all odds, we both relieved our thoughts. We got to the bottom in our disagreements, but most importantly we got to know each other better, understood each other’s limits and which things that were important for us as individuals. The result was a significantly improved working environment and a common recognition of the differences. (Afterwards, I learned that he felt the same way about me, and that he would have fired my if I did not change my attitude).
In the following years, our working relationship improved and our different personalities became a strength for the company. He actually became the manager I have had for the longest time, and one of the managers I have learned the most from. Today, I often use his teachings and reasoning, when I consider solutions. I became both a better employee and a better manager by staying and living through the difficult period.
To both the employee and the manager, my advice is: Take up the battle and find out where you can use each other’s strengths and understand why the conflicts occur. That way you can build a better and more productive working environment. It is my experience that most difficult situations can be solved this way and both parties get more out of understanding differences and using the differences to achieve better results.
Of course, there are situations where cooperation between employee and manager can become so conflictual that that there is no way back. In these cases, it is also an employer and employee right to terminate the working relationship and move on. I am in no way advocating inaction or accepting mediocrity, however I believe that both employee and manager need to give the working relationship an extra chance and that way learn from each other for the benefit of the company and the parties.
Thomas Honoré is Chief Executive officer and President of Columbus.