The Business Coach with Laura Murphy: Ultra-critical female boss

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Question: “I’ve been recruited into a middle manager role and was promised support from my female boss. She’s being really critical of me though and I feel like quitting.” Amanda

Answer: “Surveys show that the majority of workers, male and female, prefer a male boss because women are considered “moody”, “bring their personal problems to work”, and are “more likely to backstab”. The sad fact is that there are so few female bosses around, that the actions of the poor managers stand out and the stereotyping continues.

Women report that although they are good at multi-tasking, they fear they can’t hold onto their senior roles. They’ve had to fight against the stereotypes, succeed in a mainly male dominated business world (and don’t under-estimate that battle) so is it any wonder that some retreat to defensive mode and “pull the ladder up behind them.”

You’re feeling battered and hurt at present. It may well be that your manager is trying to toughen you up for the world ahead of you: it worked for her so it’ll work for you. Or it could be that what you’re doing just isn’t good enough.

Step back from you for the moment and put yourself into her shoes. If your middle manager went about her tasks as you have been doing, would you be satisfied? What would you want to see her doing differently? If that’s too difficult then take a step further back and imagine watching both of you and see where changes need to be made.

You’ve then got a choice. You can quit, continue feeling put upon and resentful, or you can talk to her about the difficulties you are facing and the support that you need. She may never acknowledge her need for coaching in how to manage a rising business woman but you can change how you respond to her.”

Laura is an organisation development specialist and executive coach with mtc2 ltd.  To solve your problem email Tweet @WayfinderWoman Names and details have been changed to protect confidentiality.