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