Communication skills are the key if you want to avoid having a promising career wrecked by a difficult manager, writes PATRICK BOYLE

If your relationship with your boss makes an episode of The Office look like a master class in people management and working for David Brent would be a breath of fresh air, then you are probably dealing with a difficult manager.

Problems can range from minor arguments that stem from bad personal chemistry of poor communication; to significant grievances that can lead to stress, demotivation and self-esteem issues. Even top executives are by no means exempt from these problems, according to Rowan Manahan, the MD of the career management firm, Fortify Services.

“To reach such heights, a person has to have plenty of confidence,” said Manahan. “But this doesn’t render them exempt from somebody pushing their buttons and annoying or even bullying them.”

“If you are pulled in for a meeting on Monday morning and you’re roasted over the coals, and it only seems to be you that’s attracting that sort of attention and inappropriate behaviour; you need to start taking specific note of exactly what is being said to you and how it is making you feel,” said Manahan.

… Manahan said that if you end up in court (in Ireland), the amount of compensation is never going to be enough. “The difficulty is that even of the court finds 100% in your favour, there is a significant stigma attached to being a whistle-blower or being seen as litigious.”

He cited clients of his who had gone the legal route who found job offers evaporating at the last moment. “They get to the stage where a letter of offer is out, the reference and background checking is proceeding and, all of a sudden, the offer is rescinded,” he said.

So polish up those communication skills …