About six months ago I accepted a position in management at a new company because the person who I went to work for has always been a mentor.

I now feel like I'm settled in but having some bumpy moments interacting with my new boss. We have very different personalities but I have always looked up to this person because she is very ambitious and respected in our industry. I put a lot of pressure on myself to perform the way I think she would want me to and I am anxious all the time about what she thinks.

She doesn't really give me any negative feedback. She likes to manage by positive reinforcement and when I ask if there is anything I could do better, she gives me mostly blanket answers that I'm doing good. I never feel like she tells me what I should be hearing but instead tells me what I want to hear. I'm concerned she may be trying to spare my feelings because we had a working relationship prior to me joining the company. My boss is very cut and dry with everyone else. She sometimes makes me uncomfortable with her remarks because they are so clear cut. Though it's a quality I admire and wish I could be more like as a manager and person, she sometimes will says things to me that make me wonder (stress) what she might be trying to tell me without telling me honestly.

I don't want to muck up my working relationship with my boss because she thinks I'm needy or need constant reassurance. I'm trying to be confident in what I do but I always feel like I'm working under a large shadow that I've created in my own head.

This is the first point in my career where I have the position I want and that adds extra pressure to the situation. I tend to be self-doubting lately and I want to make sure I'm doing everything possible to be good at what I do. So I guess my question is has anyone felt this way when they went to work for someone that they professionally admire? Any tips on how to handle this? How to grow into my own skin?

afmoffa's picture

How often are you asking for feedback? Whatever the frequency is, it sounds as if you should ask less often. If the boss knows you are open to feedback, and she doesn't have any feedback, it's weird to ask for it. (Imagine if a boss with an "open door" policy asked you once a month why you hadn't come through her door with a concern.)

What metrics exist in your current role, and how well do you perform against those metrics? Are sales up? Are accidents down? Are deadlines met? Are disasters averted? Does your boss know your performance against those metrics?

Your boss may be over-correcting for your past mentoring relationship by leaving you out in the cold so as not to give you preferential treatment. If so, try to meet your boss once per quarter (at most) outside the office. Do your best to recreate the atmosphere of old days, even if that means going across town to the tavern you used to meet to discuss your career.