Career advice

My manager doesn't listen to my professional expertise

The collaboration between a manager and an employee with a specialist role thrives on recognition and appreciation. If the employee feels unappreciated, they lose motivation. IDA's career counsellor offers her tips for getting the collaboration back on track.

IDA's career counsellors regularly get in touch with members with a specialist role who experience problems in working with their manager. These specialists seek advice because they feel overlooked and underappreciated by their manager, and this can lead to both a lack of motivation and irritation on the part of the specialist. 

According to career counsellor Jeanette Svendsen the members' frustrations arise from the fact that a manager and specialist have different starting points:

"It is first and foremost important to recognise that the manager and the specialist often do not have the same success criteria for the work. Both manager and specialist have a responsibility for solving a cooperation problem, and mutual understanding and respect for each other's tasks is the first step in the direction of better cooperation", says Jeanette Svendsen.

Although both parties bear the responsibility for finding a solution to the problem, there are steps you as a specialist can take to influence the situation in a positive direction yourself, so that it does not end with you leaving the job in frustration. At the end of the article you will find Jeanette Svendsen's advice on how to handle collaboration difficulties, but first of all it is important to understand why the problems arise.

How do cooperation  problems between managers and specialists arise?

According to IDA's career counsellors, there are two main reasons why specialists can end up feeling unappreciated:

  1. Firstly, the specialist may have a manager who has previously worked as a specialist, but now exclusively handles management tasks. Nevertheless, the manager still interferes with specialist tasks, dives into details, or dictates how tasks are to be solved. In such a situation, the specialist may feel that there is not enough respect, recognition and leeway for the person to come forward with their own skills and knowledge, so that they can solve the task themselves and gain recognition.

  2. Secondly, it may be that the specialist has a manager who does not have the same professional background, and therefore may not fully understand what the specialist can and contributes. It may also be that the manager emphasizes other things than the specialist when they assess what a correct and good task solution is. Where the specialist emphasizes high quality, the manager may look more at finances and time for delivery of a product.

In both of the above cases, it is about management of expectations between specialist and manager. If your manager interferes too much with your tasks, it can be helpful to have a conversation where you get expectations aligned on how your role and task solving should be carried outYou can ask your manager for greater leeway, while at the same time agreeing on the best possible way to report back to your manager, so that he or she can be updated on your work. It creates a sense of security both ways.

If you find that your manager has a different focus than yourself, it is, in addition to matching expectations, about finding a common understanding. Find out what your manager prioritises. Maybe he or she does not have the unrealistic expectations you imagine at all? When you know what your manager values, it is easier to deliver what is valued by the management.

Jeanette Svendsen knows that you can naturally reach a tipping point where the distance between manager and specialist is so great that you have to look for a new job. But she also believes that there is help to be had before you get there, and that as a specialist you yourself have the opportunity to take some steps in the right direction. Here are her three pieces of advice for you, who are in a specialist role and who experience that the cooperation between you and your manager breaks down from time to time.

Advice for specialists who find that collaboration has come to a standstill:

  1. Make your value visible
    When you have had an matching of expectations with your manager, you should focus on how you make your value visible. Good performance is not enough in itself. You must also be able to translate your achievements into strategy and business gains – not just once a year, but continuously. You must think of your functions as a whole and continuously demonstrate to your manager how your contribution creates better results for the department. This means that your manager always knows what you can do and why your work is valuable to the department and the company.

  2. Use your colleagues for sparring about core tasks
    You must recognize that your manager does not always have the same knowledge, and therefore cannot necessarily spar with you about your core tasks. Instead, use skilled colleagues to get feedback and get help from your manager to align expectations with direction and goals. Try to build a good framework and leeway to be able to perform.

  3. Create good relationships across the company
    Work on creating a good relationship with your manager and the rest of the organisation. A good relationship makes collaboration easier in everyday life, and often creates room for more career opportunities, new tasks and recognition. Make sure you focus on creating relationships throughout the whole organization and that others know about you, your work, your wishes and skills. Otherwise, you can easily disappear in the crowd.


Do you feel that your cooperation with your manager has come to a standstill? Get help from our skilled career counsellors by clicking on the link below.