How to Get Over Your Ex-Boss

BossEvery person you interact with makes an impression on you in one way or another. People you socialise with, people you live with and people you work with all affect you. The more time you spend with people, the more their actions and words impact on you. As many of us spend a large proportion of time with work colleagues, it’s no surprise our inter-personal relationships at work play a part in how we feel and how we perform. Good working relationships are motivating and productive. However, when you don’t have a good relationship with a colleague, and in particular, an ex-boss, the impact may be negative and destructive.

All relationships take work. But sometimes it can feel that no matter what you do, you can’t win with some people! Human beings have unique, multi-faceted personalities so it’s virtually impossible to go through your working life without personality clashes. However, learning to accept that you just don’t get on with a manager isn’t always easy. Sometimes, despite your best efforts, it’s time to move on.

You’re not alone. In 2015, B2B Marketplace Approved Index surveyed 1,374 employees in the UK and found that 42% of them have left a job because of problems with a manager.

But what if the sting of injustice is hard to forget?

Let’s have a look at the issue, followed by some suggestions for putting any problems firmly in the past and moving on.

Your Ex-Boss Wasn’t Necessarily a Monster!

Being a good manager doesn’t come naturally to many people. The art of leading and motivating employees has been written about at great length! Whether your ex-boss simply hasn’t honed their management skills, or you just find it difficult to get on with them โ€“ the results are potentially limiting for both of you.

After working for a toxic boss, your clarity and confidence is eroded. Worst of all, you start to question yourself, your abilities and your judgement.

Disagreements, mistrust and feeling unappreciated are extremely demoralising. When going into work feels like an ordeal due to challenging interactions with your boss, it’s easy to blame them for the whole situation.

It’s true that there are some genuinely unpleasant people in this world. But the chances are your ex-boss has their own issues that make him/her act as they do. At the end of the day, we often know very little about the lives of those we work with, even though we spend so much time with them.

Managing is stressful, even for a natural leader. If your ex-boss finds their job difficult, they may be projecting their problems onto those around them. After all, it’s easier to place the blame for problems at someone else’s feet than to accept responsibility. We’ve all done that at some time! Blame culture, micromanaging, bullying, mismanaging, unfair treatment and a lack of personal skills are all symptomatic of a boss that struggles to lead effectively.

Signs You’re Not Over Your Ex-Boss

If you feel you’ve been treated poorly by someone in authority at work, the emotions stirred up by the events can follow you and effect your relationships with new colleagues and managers. Here’s some telltale signs that you’re not over your ex-boss:

  • Feeling anxious and stressed when dealing with your new boss.
  • Dreading or avoiding interacting with him/her.
  • Feeling overly worried that you’re going to make mistakes or mess up in some way.
  • Anticipating problems in your new employee/boss relationship before they happen.
  • Feeling a frequent need to quiz your colleagues about any problems they have with your boss.
  • Reacting defensively to your new boss’s suggestions.

Move Forward and Get Over Your Ex-Boss

The keys to moving forward in a new job after problems with a previous manager are in analysis, acceptance and learning.

Gaining Clarity

Take some time to work through the situations that caused you problems. One of the best ways to do this is to write down previous conversations and detail past actions. Read through your memories with an objective mind. Think about what caused your negative emotions in each instance. Is there anything that you could have done differently? Remember, you can’t control other people’s actions and words, but you can control how you react.

If you’re still in contact with ex-colleagues, you may want to ask them for their honest opinion of the situation. Be cautious with this technique though, be careful not to gossip or come across as bitter.

After an honest appraisal, you may find some fault on both parts. Or you may decide that the fault lies on one side or the other. Whatever you discover is fine. This exercise is simply to give you clarity.

Acknowledge Your Value

Remind yourself of your value and the positive contributions you make in the workplace. List the skills you have and plan for future learning objectives. Building new skills is a confidence boost when your self-belief has been rocked by a poor ex-boss.

Get to Know Your New Boss

Finally, it’s important you get to know your new boss for who he/she is. It’s too easy to allow your previous experience to tar your new relationship. Look at the positive qualities they have.

If you feel it’s appropriate, you can be open with your new manager about your past experiences, however, it’s by no means essential. A great way to get to know your new boss and learn about what they expect from you is to request a personal development meeting. Ask them to be specific about the best way you can work together and what goals you are both working towards.

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