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When you don't trust your boss

By Katherine Dorsett, CNN
What steps can you take if you don't trust your boss?
What steps can you take if you don't trust your boss?
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Whether employed in a large corporation or a small company, trust inevitably plays a role
  • What happens when you don't trust your boss? CNN.com asked career coaches for insight
  • Jessica Moore switched jobs to end relationship with untrustworthy boss

(CNN) -- Jessica Moore knew working for a boss she didn't trust wasn't healthy.

The 25-year-old epidemiologist from Georgia says her former boss would verbally abuse her and the colleagues she worked with in their office.

"You never knew what would set off this supervisor," said Moore. "One minute, this boss would be calm, then the next minute this person would berate you or a colleague in front of others."

Moore said her supervisor would act out in other ways, too, like sending scathing e-mails written in all capital letters. Eventually the situation became so stressful, Moore starting having anxiety and panic attacks.

"I had to lean on my family, friends and co-workers during this period of my career for support and guidance," she said.

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"I would remind myself that I was good at what I did, and the negative situation was only temporary and I would find another job soon."

The public health professional used her connections to find a new job where she is much happier.

"I feel I am accomplishing more in this job because I am more relaxed and trust my supervisor," she said. "I feel appreciated and I want to do a great job."

Whether you work at a large corporation or a small company, trust inevitably plays a role.

Mickey Parsons, a master certified career coach based in Atlanta, says good leaders understand the power of honesty and trust.

Employees want to know they can trust what their supervisors say and do, and relationships can fall apart when trust is lacking.

"Without trust, teams and work groups simply cannot sustain satisfactory productivity over time," said Parsons.

So what should an employee do if he or she can't trust a supervisor?

CNN.com asked Parsons and certified career coach Hallie Crawford of Atlanta for some advice.

Parsons said you need to either find a way to understand and resolve the issues with your boss, or find a new job.

Consider these tips, too:

1) As an employee, make sure you aren't contributing to the problem.

"When bosses 'judge' that someone is not trustworthy they pull away, they do not offer them the best assignments or flexibility that they do others," said Parsons. "The first step an employee who mistrusts his boss should do is to look inside and ask if they are giving their boss any reason to mistrust them or act in a certain way."

2) People tend to trust competence -- make sure yours speaks for itself.

Parsons said there's a saying that at work 20% of the staff do 80% of the work. He challenges workers to ask themselves which side people think they're on.

"If a supervisor doesn't see you as competent and hardworking, they may treat you as not trustworthy -- and what you experience in return causes you to mistrust them, too," said the career coach.

3) Keep a paper trail.

Crawford said if you feel there is a problem, document what is happening so you have something to provide your human resources department should the time come.

4) Confront your boss.

Consider confronting your supervisor if you think it's necessary and won't hurt your reputation or job -- or confront your boss if you are ready to leave anyway, said Crawford.

"I was in a position where I had a good enough relationship with my boss that if I felt I didn't trust her on something or something was unclear, I could ask her directly and knew she would give me an answer that would clear it up," Crawford said.

Not everyone has this kind of relationship with their boss, however, so you want to tread lightly and not lose a job that you're not ready to leave, she said.

5) If your boss is violating company policy, consider approaching human resources.

"This depends on if it's worth it to you to go to HR and how extreme the violation is," said Crawford.

You have to decide if this will jeopardize your job, and if so, decide if you can deal with those consequences, Crawford said.

 
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