Managers and bosses may try to test their employees from time to time. Even if the employee is competent in their work, some employers believe it is important to challenge them sometimes so they do not become complacent.
Knowing that your boss is monitoring you will make you more alert. You will be mindful of your productivity and the quality of your output. This also prevents stagnancy at work as you will always try to look for new ways to perform better.
Sometimes bosses also test employees to check if they have the potential to take on leadership roles in the future. Hence, instead of being daunted by their observations, this can be a crucial period for you to create an impression on your employer.
On the other hand, some bosses try to put their employees through the grind unnecessarily, which can become a toxic trait when not kept in check. It would be best if you tried to understand whether your boss is trying to intimidate you or is genuinely concerned about your growth.
As an employee, you should know how to detect the signs that your boss is testing you and handle the situation correctly, irrespective of their reasons for doing so.
Signs That Your Boss is Testing You
Irrespective of your manager’s motives, here are some signs that say they could be testing you.
1. New Deadlines
Your boss may alter your deadlines and bring them forward to test how you deal with the sudden changes. Are you going to hand in substandard work and use the excuse of the advanced deadline to cover it?
Or are you going to work extra hours and make sure you submit the best quality work? It is crucial to deliver the best at work, even under pressure, and your boss might be testing whether you have it in you.
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2. Longer Work Hours
If you are supposed to work 40 hours a week, your boss might increase it to 50 and check how much farther you are willing to go for the company.
Future managers often have to work extra hours as with greater perks come greater responsibilities. Your boss might want to check if you are willing to go that extra mile.
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3. Unusual Tasks
Your boss might allocate work to you that usually does not fall under your daily tasks or was not a part of your original job description. Your boss might want to check whether you can take over diverse roles and your potential for picking up new tasks. They might try to assess whether you will do even better with more training so that they can give you additional responsibilities.
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4. Extra Workload
Your boss might assign you extra work at times to assess your attitude. Are you an employee who grumbles at the extra task or takes it in their stride and learns from it?
Or do you feel overwhelmed and burdened by all of it and decide to confront your boss soon after? This could be their way of checking your endurance and willingness to learn.
5. Does Not Acknowledge You
If your boss suddenly stops acknowledging you, it could be a sign they are testing you. People don’t like being acknowledged, and it can agitate them. As for employees, it could directly impact their work as they would feel ignored.
Your boss may want to check your emotional strength and see whether being rejected prevents you from performing best at your work. Since relationship dynamics can change very quickly in the professional world, it is vital to learn how to rise above it and not let it hinder your work.
6. Treated Poorly
You may find that your manager has suddenly started treating you poorly. They might exclude you from the meeting or other office events. They might berate you in front of other colleagues and not praise you when you deserve it.
This will surely make you depressed, but it could be your boss’s way of checking how well you can adapt to such adverse situations and whether your performance takes a hit.
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7. Testing Your Integrity
Your boss might be trying to test your integrity in several other ways. You could be asked to take a bribe, offered money for sharing secrets with someone outside the organization, or asked to engage in other illegal activity.
Your boss might imply you should take the opportunity if you want to move up in your career. However, they just might be testing your integrity, and it would be unwise to fall for it.
8. Seek Advice
Another way your boss may test you is by sending you to someone else for advice. They might send you to one of your colleagues or an in-house trainer. They might want to see whether you are open to suggestions and whether you feel slighted when told to seek advice.
It indicates that you are willing to learn from suggestions, which is vital if one wants to become a leader someday.
9. New Team Allocations
Your boss might assign you to a new team and see how you fare among new people. When people work with the same coworkers for extended periods, they tend to fall into a pattern.
However, your boss may try to push you out of your comfort zone and check whether a change in the environment affects your performance. This could be important if your boss has plans to use in other places within the organization that can make better use of your expertise.
How to Handle the Pressure of Being Tested By Your Boss?
You can handle the pressure of being tested by your boss in several ways. Instead of letting it overwhelm you, you should look for ways of self-improvement. Try to look at the bright side of things.
Suppose your boss is satisfied after testing you. In that case, you will exceed their expectations, prompting them to offer you better roles in your work. The new designations will come with better pay packages, which will be an excellent way to advance your career.
However, before that happens, you will have to wait some time and pass through the difficult phase. You don’t know for how long your boss will test you, and if he is only doing this because of his toxicity, then chances are that he would be relentless.
The key to handling the pressure is not to take it personally and keep reminding yourself to look at the bright side of things. You have to remind yourself that your boss is testing you to check if you have the potential to make it big. Do not keep looking at the negative side of things, as that will only make the situation more stressful.
How to Deal With a Toxic Boss?
If you feel that your boss is not testing you positively and is only making things difficult for you as they are toxic, here is how you can deal with them.
- Try to make friends at work. Ensure that your other senior colleagues, who have the potential to be managers someday, get to know you and the excellent work you are doing. Once your present boss is promoted, shifted, or quits to leave another organization, you will have someone who knows you.
- Be professional and courteous, even when your boss is not. Please do not give them reasons to find faults with you.
- Keep your head on your work, and do not take it personally. If your boss is toxic, they probably behave the same way as everyone else. You do not have to worry whether you did something wrong, as it will only make you lose concentration and perform poorly.
- Try to understand their leadership style. It could be that your boss has a different way of managing things than you were used to. Take it up as a challenge and adapt to their style. It will give you more insight into different managerial techniques and teach you to adapt better.
- Suppose things indeed start to get very difficult. In that case, ask your HR if you should start documenting incidents just in case you have to submit a report later.
How to Tell if Your Boss is Testing You Positively or Negatively?
Your boss might be testing you to see how you perform under pressure or simply because they are insecure and gain a sense of power by always keeping their employees on their toes. Hence, your boss may be testing you positively to check whether you have the mettle to make it big in the future or if they are toxic and are trying to make things difficult for you.
So, how do you differentiate between the two?
The most striking difference between both scenarios would be that if your boss is testing you positively, they will only test you for a while and then tell you what they found out. If they were testing you with a purpose, they would continue for a while and come and talk to you about what they found out.
For example, if your boss checks whether you can perform under pressure, they will try to mess up your deadlines for a week or two. Once they see you succeeded, they will stop and make a note in your performance report. Similarly, they might avoid you for a week to check if it rattles you or if you go on steadily with your work.
If they see you struggling, they will stop and come and talk to you about how to manage your tasks before and be an excellent mentor to you.
However, a toxic boss will engage in the same activities from a place of insecurity, and they will continue to do so for a very long time. Moreover, they might give you negative feedback and penalize you after putting you in a difficult situation.
There is no way to differentiate between the two scenarios initially. Still, as time goes by and you see no improvement, then it is very likely that your boss is toxic. Moreover, you may also learn a few things about your bosses from your senior colleagues and form an idea yourself.
Hence, once you have carefully evaluated the situation, you should think about how you want to proceed.
Being tested by your boss will undoubtedly give rise to some anxiety. After all, no one likes being scrutinized or being made to go through difficult phases.
However, for comparatively new employees, this could be an initiation ritual where the employers check whether the employees could bear the pressure and would be in for the long haul.
It will also teach you to face even more difficult situations at work later. It will also teach you how to handle complex management styles. Keep looking at the bright side of things, and you will surely be a winner.