By Liz Ryan.

This story originally appeared on Forbes.


Dear Liz,

I started my dream job a year ago. I work in merchandising for a popular online retailer.

There are so many parts of my job I love — including my co-workers, my suppliers and the creativity I get to bring to work every day.

I can’t stand my boss. She is petty, jealous, hyper-political and totally unqualified for her position. “Kristen” is new in our department. She didn’t hire me. Our old manager got promoted and moved to Europe.

Two people in our department have already quit because of Kristen.

Kristen’s boss is our VP and he has only come to our department once since I’ve worked here. I don’t hold out any hope that anyone in HR or our VP is going to notice how Kristen demoralizes and terrorizes us.

I really want to keep my job, not only because it’s fun when Kristen is not around but because it is exactly the kind of experience I need to take my career to the next step.

I need more than a year of experience in this job to take the next step in my career.

How can I manage my relationship with Kristen so I can stay here longer?

Thanks Liz!



Dear Shay,

Congratulations on landing a job that brings out your best! That is magnificent.

I will give you tips for dealing with Kristen, but you’ll need to start planning your next move in order to use them effectively.

“I will keep working here as long as I can stand it” is not a plan.

Talk to a few headhunters and industry contacts to determine how much more time you’ll need in your current job to step into the role you want next.

Maybe it’s a year. Maybe it’s two years.

Whatever that time frame is, make it your goal to reach that milestone without walking out the door in disgust one day or telling Kristen how you really feel — and being walked out the door a few minutes later!

If you are in a dangerous or abusive situation, then you’ll switch to Plan B and collect the valuable resume fodder you seek at a different company. You cannot stay in a place where you’re not safe.

Assuming that Kristen is just another garden-variety petty tyrant, here are ideas for managing your relationship with her while you execute your resume-fodder-collection project.

1. First, decide exactly which kinds of resume fodder you want to acquire and go after them starting immediately. Maybe you want experience designing your own catalog or running the launch of a new product. Merely sticking around at your current job because two years there will look better on your resume than one year is not a plan. Think about the role you want after this one and strategically work to gather the experiences, contacts and training you’ll need to step into that position.

2. Next, identify the situations that put you and Kristen at odds most often. Maybe a problem spot is the Monday morning staff meeting where you bite your lip until it bleeds to avoid telling Kristen her ideas are ridiculous. Maybe you bristle when Kristen walks up to your desk to make one of her snide comments. Get a journal and write about the times and places where you and Kristen most often cross swords.

3. Once you’ve identified the hot spots where you and Kristen are prone to tangle, create a strategy for managing each one. If the Monday morning staff meeting is tense and awful, make a plan to stay calm and cool this coming Monday and every Monday for the next one to two years. Keep in mind that you are on a mission to beef up your portfolio. As long as you are doing that, who cares what Kristen says or thinks? You will find that the more you focus on your next role, the less irksome Kristen’s bad habits will become. You simply won’t care what Kristen says or thinks. As long as she doesn’t fire you, her opinions won’t matter very much anymore.

4. Do not gossip with your co-workers about how much you hate Kristen. You are gaining altitude on your life and career. Kristen is a bit player in your movie and her role will get smaller and smaller as time goes on. Don’t join in Kristen-bashing conversations. Simply tune out and go back to your work. After all, you’re on a mission — a mission to buff up your resume for the job that awaits you once you graduate from this one!

5. Finally, focus on yourself and your path. The more clearly you see your future, the less you’ll care about Kristen and her fearful ways. By the time you leave your job Kristen will be a minor irritant at worst. She may quit or get fired before you move on to your next adventure, but it really won’t matter to you either way. You have your eyes on bigger things than pleasing folks like her. Your brilliant future lies ahead of you!

All the best to you Shay –



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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