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Dear Liz,

I am very frustrated with my supervisor, “Anna.” She doesn’t stand up for me or the other employees.

She says I have good ideas that the company should implement, but she won’t talk to her boss about them because she’s afraid to.

She doesn’t go to bat for me even when it really matters, like last year when I had to change my vacation plans twice because the department was short-staffed.

I thought the company should have given me extra vacation time for that inconvenience, but Anna wouldn’t even talk to HR about it, much less her boss.

I understand why Anna is fearful at work because she’s a young supervisor and a single mom and she needs her job. Still, isn’t it a supervisor’s job to stand up for their employees?

How do I get Anna to be less fearful and stand up for her team?

Working for her is driving me crazy!



Dear Joseph,

The funny thing about fear is that it’s easy to spot in other people. It’s much harder to see our own fear.

Why do you work for Anna if she causes you so much stress?

You could get another job. It’s a pain in the neck to job-hunt, but surely it’s worth that hassle to get out from under wimpy Anna, right?

You cannot make the observation that Anna is fearful without acknowledging your own fear at the same time.

It is easy to say “Anna, you should stand up for your employees!”

It is harder to look in the mirror and say “I am afraid to job-hunt. It’s easier to stay in this job where I feel comfortable, and grouse about how useless a manager Anna is.”

Maybe Anna is wimpy, but you are comfortable with her.

A wise person once said that the reward for solving any problem is a new and bigger problem to solve.

Anna looks like your biggest problem, but she is not.

If anything, she is an angel guiding you back onto your path. When you get frustrated enough with Anna you will take the step of getting your resume together and starting a job hunt.

Why make Anna a villain in your movie when she is doing the best she can?

So she’s fearful — who isn’t? That’s no reason to make her the bad guy. She is who she is. She is on her path.

You agreed to work for her initially and you re-establish that agreement every day when you walk into work. If you don’t like it, you can leave.

If you stay, then you accept your job as it is and you accept Anna as she is. You are not a victim of your own life!

You have a path to follow.

Meek Anna is a distraction. Your assignment is to stop complaining about Anna and launch a stealth job search this week.

As you create your Human-Voiced Resume, start building your Target Employer List and begin identifying hiring managers to contact, your confidence will grow.

That confidence may lead you to coach Anna on more effective ways to approach her manager with requests and good ideas.

Instead of criticizing Anna, you can help grow her confidence along with your own!

All the best to you,


Liz Ryan is CEO/founder of Human Workplace and author of Reinvention Roadmap. Follow her on Twitter and read Forbes columns.



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