You are sitting at your desk.
You are starting to sweat.
You are starving but you can’t get lunch because the document you are working on is already late and you’re only halfway through processing the six pages of corrections your manager just gave you.
This is their fourth round of revisions.
As your fingers punch the keyboard, your frustration rises and you can hardly concentrate.
All you can hear is their voice in your head. “Can’t you do it a bit more like this?…”Where is your attention to detail?”…“I thought you said writing pitches was a strength?”.
No matter what you turn in, it’s not good enough. The same errors keep cropping up. Like a bad pimple. The more you try to conceal it – the more pronounced it becomes.
Feedback is great. It’s essential for our development. It helps us grow. It’s what we crave.
But relentless, negative commentary on everything we produce has the opposite effect. It’s stifling and suffocating.
It hits confidence.
It kills creativity.
It limits our potential.
Which is bad for you. And expensive for your employer. It means wasted talent and squandered opportunities for innovation.
Unfortunately, if you expect the worst from someone, more often than not you will get it.
But it goes both ways.
When we are given space to create, to innovate, to take initiative we are happier. And happier people perform better.
Studies show that greater levels of dopamine (the happy hormone) in the brain are linked to greater levels of perception. Happy people perceive a wider range of data, solve more problems and come up with more new ideas.
So what can you do if your bosses constant criticism is causing you to lose the will live?
Here are three possible options:
1. Talk it out: Ok – it’s awkward. It’s not the conversation you want to have. But it’s essential.
Why? Because they genuinely might not know how badly they are affecting your working life (and no doubt your personal life)
Just because someone is good at their job DOES NOT make them a good manager. Good managers are made not born – so it’s important that you help shape them as much as the other way around. For your own sake and those who come after you.
2. Call it out: So you went for a coffee, had the chat and you were sure things would be different. So sure you even paid for the coffee. Then… Nothing. After three days it was back to the old master and the whipping boy routine.
Now is the time to call it out. You have to go up the chain and speak to someone more senior. Again, it’s a sensitive conversation but it has to be had. You have to give your company the chance to put things right, as it very possible they know nothing about what you are going through and would be very sorry to lose you.
3. Walk out: Yep. Pull on your big girl pants and leave. At this risk getting into hotwater for telling people to quit their jobs, we will add we also recommend getting another job first.
The bottomline: If options 1 & 2 failed and you have been working at your best – and you’re still being squashed every time you hand in a piece of work or raise your hand in a meeting – you gotta get out of there. Do you really need to hang around until your confidence is completely shot to pieces and you think the only job you’re qualified for requires at Grade 3 education?
Yes, it’s extreme, but you need to be able to judge when you are flogging a dead horse. If you are deeply unhappy and have tried your hardest to resolve the situation, to no avail – then maybe you gotta let that horse go.
And finally, if you really need to have this conversation but don’t know where to start – email us for free, practical advice on how to handle it.
Or tell us below. Have you had a boss like this? How did you handle it? We’d love to hear from you!