does anyone else get like this? I have got on brilliantly with some of my line managers, if given some freedom to be comfortable and do things my way my work is excellent and I happily do extra, and am still friends with previous managers.
however I have gone through life having huge difficulties if I start feeling trapped. If I’m told I can’t do something, for the sake of being told no, like I view it as them having full control and I start to shut down. I have social conversations with others at work, but I can’t face even a simple conversation with my line manager. My line manager stares at me and asks question after question about my weekends, my evenings, how I am, what I’m doing that evening. If other people asked me I’d be able to talk to them.
I’ve lost jobs, left jobs and walked out due to this. I do feel bad because my line manager has been in tears and finds my behaviour very upsetting.
Does anyone else have similar struggles?
Yes, I have experienced similar problems. One of my current managers wants to tell me all about her family, and discuss relationship problems she is having - for me this is deeply uncomfortable. With hindsight I can see how she may have perceived my reaction to her attempts to be friends as a rejection. others in the team are Facebook friends with her, this does not feel appropriate to me.
I have got on well with managers where there were clear boundaries in our relationship. I also need to respect my manager's behaviour and competence. If they behave badly, make poor decisions and are disrespectful or bullying I can't ignore it and get on with my job like colleagues can.
It is a real problem as relatively few managers seem to have the appropriate training, knowledge and skills to manage NT people, let alone autistic people. Senior managers discussing line managers who are acknowledged to have poor management skills say things like: "She'll never change, that's just the way she is". I find this utterly mystifying.
Not sure what the answer is. Self employment probably, but that isn't feasible for everyone. I think managers need more training and 360 degree appraisal and exit interviews should be standard. At the moment life is very difficult indeed if you are perceived to be different in some way and you can't bring yourself to be social with your manager. This should not count against us but it often does.
Thanks for the reply.
definitely feel the same in that if a line manager behaves badly or incompetently in a bullying way I can’t just let it go like others seem to.
People have always said to me to ‘play the game.’ But I just either don’t get this game, or I just can’t play it. I’m really bad at lying, but I really struggle to communicate or discuss ‘feelings’ especially when uncomfortable, or if someone’s prying. So I just go mute. When asked the other day if I could just come in and smile and ask my line manager if they’d had a good weekend, I couldn’t lie and say I could do it.
I wish I could play this game, and stop having these relationship breakdowns and having to leave jobs that I could do and would enjoy.
I know exactly what you mean - it is so disappointing and exhausting having to keep moving on when there is nothing wrong with the job itself. I realise there are social rules I could re-learn and apply to help me fit in, but I did that for many years and it made me feel dishonest and damaged my sense of self.
The managers I got on with were decent, hardworking people with clear boundaries, and like you I have kept in touch with a couple of them.
I wonder if it would be different starting a new job knowing I am autistic? I only got diagnosed recently so this would be a new experience for me. I might find it easier if potentially tricky issues are discussed at the outset, rather than waiting until they crop up.
I am supposed to be working on a career passport, but not getting on very well. Probably because too much damage has been done, and I feel panicky about working with my manager again. Trust is massively important to me and it is really hard for me to get it back once it has gone
I am going to ask Access to Work for a job coach and for ASD training for my colleagues and managers. I had some coaching years ago and found it quite helpful even though I ended up leaving that job too! So much depends on the employer being willing to make adjustments - and managers being able to adapt their management style.
Much of this post could be about me!
The problem in my case was caused by micromanagement and a line manager who thought her purpose was to 'order people about' rather than get the best out of them.
A good manager should allow people to work to their strengths and capabilities, not to their weaknesses. Many years ago I had a manager who told me that a good manager was one who you didn't know was there, who allowed people freedom to do work in their own way as long as it gave the desired result (and obviously didn't involve dishonesty or bullying). And I thought at the time this was only a way of a manager being able to go off playing golf instead of performing his duties. But as time passed and with some awful managers since, I realise how true his comments were.
A good employer will have selected the candidate for the job and will then be able to trust the employee. Lack of trust shows lack of ability and lack of confidence in their choice. A manager should be there for someone to get guidance from but not be on your back all the time.
My problems really came to a head with a Tupe and a change of my job role. It led to five months off sick with depression, my autism diagnosis, a change of manager, and ultimately an application to the employment tribunal and a sum of money (I have kept my job, and now am allowed to work in my own way).
Micromanagement, belittling someone, setting someone up to fail, overburdening them with unsuitable work, micromanagement, are all traits of bullying. And this added to failure to listen leads to a breakdown in communication and a fear of the manager. I had great problems with communicating with my line manager, and a feeling of real fear as she just would not listen and anything I said would be ignored or used against me in some sort of 'performance' issue. I don't know what the school is where they are taught to act like this, suffice it to say that many managers behave in this way amongst other managers which are fair and treat people with respect.
The result of bad management is stress, anxiety and depression, mental illness and absence. And as autistics we are particularly prone to these conditions. I always believe it is lack of control that makes one stressed and gives anxiety, the thought of turning up to work becomes onerous and eventually one's opinion of oneself becomes overwhelmingly bad. It then rubs salt into the wound to have the manager saying they are 'trying to help' and have your best interests at heart.
It has taken a long time to get my situation turned round and it was a hard struggle but now I feel at least that I can turn up for work and not be criticised for everything I do. And by taking things to a nearly satisfactory conclusion under employment law has I hope made them think twice before they pull the same stunt again.
I'm wondering the same as you, whether things would be different starting a new job knowing and trying to work through things earlier.
And yeah I feel trust is very important and once its broken down its so hard to rebuild it. Do you find that once you have an issue like that when you've lost that trust and relationship that you really struggle to take basic instruction from that person? Then get annoyed because things are that bad?
Yes! I can't stand micromanagement, especially when there's no help with actual work or when you've asked for work help but not got it, and then someone tries to micromanage something just for the sake of it. I believe a good manager should let you do things your way, as long as the work gets done. You've believed employed for a reason and there should be some trust and mutual respect.
Your experience and comments sound so similar to mine. I'm glad you've kept your job and can work in your own way!
I feel my current line manager doesn't have the skills to be a manager, I've had no training and get no help when I ask, yet they want to micromanage silly things. I asked about adjustments because I was struggling with the environment and was told no. So for months I've struggled, felt trapped, like sitting in a school detention every day, and eventually went off sick. What you say about lack of control is spot on I think. I had no control over anything, with my line manager having control over their office and how everyone else had to behave and work. Now I've been given reasonable adjustments-moved desks, headphones, reporting to someone else. But everytime they try and get us to talk to each other about rebuilding a work relationship I just shutdown again. I was told my line manager goes home in tears, and is so hurt to see that I talk to other people but wont talk to her. So now I feel really bad because I don't mean to do that to people.
Trust, once lost, is hard to regain.
I wouldn't feel bad about your line-manager going home in tears. That is her problem that she must address. She didn't seem particularly bothered about the affect she was having on you.
You could try offering an olive branch to her if you feel you are able. Tell her you are more comfortable now with your adjustments and would hope things can now move on. It has to be a two-way thing, it is no good you getting the flack and also trying to put an effort into the professional relationship.
I know how difficult that would be. But you do have to work together, so she should also put a professional approach in and let byegones be byegones, starting afresh and respecting the fact that you are autistic which doesn't mean you are incapable of doing things on your own, in fact it can help tremendously for you to be able to work things out for yourself.
It was definitely the case that no one was concerned for months when I said I was struggling.
I know I need to be able to start being able to rebuild the relationship, I just really struggle to do this. I said it would take some time and would need to happen naturally, a good starting point would be to just have meetings to discuss work, because then there is a purpose to the conversation, and from there conversations will start to happen naturally. But I'm told that's not good enough I can't have things my own way, I need to be able to have conversations and start each day saying good morning and asking how she is etc. It sounds stupid that I can't just do this, but to me it's just trying to force something.
I think Access to Work may be able to help you, not least that it may be possible for you to get funding for a support worker through them.
I have a support worker and she is a great help explaining to my line manager the difficulties I have in social interraction as well as other work related problems.
I get two sessions a month, of one and a half hours each session. One session is with my line manager as well, and the other session is (confidential) between me and my support worker, where we talk of any problems anywhere as well as talking on anything and everything. It really is a great help.
Expecting you to act like a neurotypical is not going to help you in the least. What needs to happen is your line manager to understand your problems and adapt accordingly. Trying to make you say 'good morning' and engage in small talk will not work and only make you feel worse.
Access to Work can also arrange for training for your managers and colleagues so they can begin to understand your problems.
I think that sounds exactly what I need. How did you go about getting that help? I think it could make a huge difference, to both my employer and to myself. Did you apply for it yourself?