If you have ONLY had competent, inspiring and supportive supervisors then there is no need to read this.

However, if you have had a supervisor who displays one or more of these characteristics…

  • Is not qualified;
  • Demonstrates subjective favouritism in work and promotion;
  • Fails to communicate (or may not even have) goals/objectives, expectations, and timelines;
  • Uses disciplinary measures inappropriately when simple, positive communication would correct the problem;
  • Speaks loudly, rudely, one-sidedly to staff;
  • Bullies staff and/or allows staff to bully colleagues;
  • Takes credit for the successes and positive accomplishments of his/her team but fails to provide rewards or recognition for positive employee performance;
  • Blames others when things go wrong;
  • Lacks integrity, breaks promises, and is dishonest;
  • Does not have the courage to deal with a difficult situation,

… You might be experiencing “Supervisor Syndrome”.

There is a definition in the online “urban dictionary”, but I created a new one, “Supervisor syndrome is a phenomenom in which staff become fixated on the negative relationship they have with their supervisor, sometimes to the point of negatively impacting their work and personal life.”

The international workspace creates a culture specific version of the “supervisor syndrome”.

It includes some, or all, of the following signs:

  • You find yourself boring others with your daily “supervisor horror” stories;
  • Preoccupation/obsession about “bad” supervisor;
  • Feeling off balance most of the time at work;
  • Fear to speak up because you are afraid that your supervisor is going to “screw you” professionally;
  • Regret over past supervisors and lost professional and personal time;
  • Anger about, or even lingering traumatic responses, to past supervisor abuses;
  • Plummeting self-confidence due to lack of “real” work and/or negative feedback.

My clients seem to get stuck in what I call the

“web of bad” – a strong focus on (if not obsession with) the CONTENT of their circumstances and their REACTION to it.  This keeps them stuck.

I work with people who:

  • collapse from the experience and feel like a victim (“This should not be happening to me!”)
  • get morally outraged because UN and NGO are supposed to be morally superior workplaces (“This is NOT RIGHT!”)
  • get mean and start to play dirty because that is how the game is played (“Only the snakes win in the international workspace and I will not lose”)

Sound familiar?

If this is you then here is a simple step you can take immediately.  It might sound a little “nutty like fruitcake” ( I found that in the thesaurus when looking for a synonym for “crazy” and who could resist such a phrase?)

1. Fictional supervisor exercise: Spend 10 minutes making up your ideal supervisor.  This will give you information about what is missing and what you are looking for.

  • what quotations does she/he have on the wall that represent her/his philosophy on life and as a manager?
  • How does she/he positively communicate with you?
  • How does she/he create a team?
  • How does she/he resolve conflict on the team and within the organization?
  • How does she/he protect the team from organizational garbage?
  • How does she/he support you to be and do your very best?
  • How does she/he make you feel “seen” and valued?
  • How do you know she/he has personal and professional integrity?

If you find yourself with a bad case of “supervisor syndrome” contact DPPD for a FREE consultation