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This question follows from How to deal with mixed messages during the probation period?

My situation is that my probation period has been extended. Moreover, my manager sends me mixed messages about my performance.

Seeing as my probation period is almost up and I don't have any information as to how that will proceed, then I'm stressed. Moreover, I haven't found a 'back-up' job, but I do have a decent amount of savings.

I know that I'm stressed (as opposed to 'under pressure') because my blood pressure has increased to 'high' levels whilst working here. I don't have any other drivers of high blood pressure (smoking, obesity, high-salt diet etc.)

I want to have a conversation with my manager about the stress he has been causing me and the potential health consequences it may have. Ideally I want to have a situation where going forwards he gives me consistent feedback on my work. Negative feedback is fine; at least I'll know where I stand.

My question is, how can I hold a conversation about workplace stress when I know my manager is the cause?

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Don't talk to him about the stress that he's causing you.

Do have a talk with him regarding the stress that the situation is causing you.

Tell him what situation is causing you problems and how you'd ideally like to resolve them, or give specifics about what it is that you find difficult to deal with.

I'm finding it hard to do x, y, and z because I also have priorities with a, b, and c.

So, it's the situation that's stressful, let your manager infers what he needs to about the causes for you being pulled in different directions.

  • 2
    To address getting mixed messages on your performance, I would add to this answer that that OP should be pushing for clearer expectations too. – jcmack Sep 13 '18 at 12:33
  • And in addition to this, you should have a department like Human Resources / Personnel wherein someone should be able to listen to your concerns and help / advice you; possibly even mediate for you if need be. – Matthew E Cornish Sep 13 '18 at 12:41
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In addition to Snow's answer, you could change your way of talking with your manager in general. Especially whenever he gives you a new task, requirements for a task or reviews the result of your work.

Ask him questions. Ask him until the task / situation is clear to you.

An example: Your manager asks you to write a tutoriual about your work.
Bad answer: "Ok."

You should ask him

  • For which target group?
  • How detailed? How many pages?
  • Only text or including pictures?
  • Which stylesheet?

And so on, until you have a concept in your mind and know what he actually wants. If he reacts badly, saying "this is obvious, you should know this", tell him that you have at least 2 different concepts in mind and you just want to make sure your work satisfies his expectations.

If the task is complicated, sum up the information.

Ok, I should write a 3 page tutorial about product X for administrative users, concentrating on feature ABC

The same applies to reviews of your work.

Manager: "This isn't enough."
Bad answer: "I'll work on it right away."

What you should do is ask him

  • What is bad / not enough. He should point out concrete examples.
  • What is missing to make it better / complete? Again, don't accept the "it's obvious".

I've worked with someone who constantly argued that "this is obvious". It took a little time to make him realize that noone could read his mind and the same situation can have different obvious solutions, depending on the person. If you are not in the middle of an argument, you can literally tell him "I cannot read your mind, you have to tell me what you're thinking".

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