Q: I work in the Sales Department of an insurance company and I am feeling very frustrated. My boss has set unrealistic targets, and he often uses intimidation to make us deliver. He does not listen to anyone’s complaints or requests for support. We are afraid to raise this higher up the leadership chain, because we fear that we could lose our jobs. How best can we handle this?
It is not uncommon for managers to have high expectations. Like you, they want to excel in their roles. While this is not a bad trait, some managers push things too far and set expectations that are simply unrealistic, thereby frustrating their teams and stretching their employees to the point of total despair. As you look for a solution, remember that you and your manager are on the same side. His success is your success, and so is his failure. First, show him some genuine support. This is the time to demonstrate your commitment and dedication, and to reassure him that you are up to the task. This will make it easier for him to pay keen attention to your concerns and suggestions, and will create a conducive environment for you to have a constructive discussion about this matter.
During one of your meetings, request to talk about the targets that have been set for you and your colleagues. It is best to do this when your workmates are around, because I believe you are speaking for them too. Share your challenges, and be sure to offer practical suggestions.
If your boss is genuine, he will explain how the targets are arrived at, and this should give you some ideas on what to do next. Perhaps it is a companywide problem that may not be resolved at that meeting. If this is the case, give your boss credible information that he can use to discuss the matter competently with other section heads.
Remember that this approach will depend on how reasonable your boss is. If his attitude is right, you will make a breakthrough. But if he is a manipulator, you will need to consider escalating the issue to his boss. Your concern might trigger positive change. But if nothing changes, know that you are working for an employer who does not care about your well-being. Risking your job for doing the right thing is better than staying put and being miserable for the remainder of your stay there.
Mwikali Muthiani - Managing Partner, MillennialHR (@MwikaliN; [email protected])