Yeah, your boss is a pain. Always getting on your case about something or other, and she never listens to your requests for some time off or making your job easier.
Realize that being a manager is a real job, and your boss is a real person. She probably doesn’t WANT to make your life miserable, she just finds it a necessary part of getting the work done.
Here’s some ideas for how to build up the relationship so that, just maybe, she’ll treat you a bit more like a human.
1) Have conversations about non-work stuff. Was she upset because her kid was sick this morning? Show some empathy and listen a bit.
2) Share your life too. I don’t mean going on and on about trivial things, but at least give you boss a little peek into your life. Especially, share some of your joys – it’s depressing to hear people complain all the time.
3) Understand your boss’ goals. Guess what? You boss doesn’t have the same job you do. And his goals are going to be a little different than yours – at least a bit larger and more comprehensive. The more you contribute to his goals, the more he’ll see you as an essential member of the team.
4) Deliver excellent work. Yeah, I know, you’re already doing that. Of course. But I’m shocked by the number of employees I see who do just the bare minimum work required. When you’re looking to promote someone, will that be the top contributors – or the people just doing a sufficient level of work?
5) Don’t whine and complain. There’s plenty of things that are miserable about your job, your life, the company, and the economy. But complaining about the situation just makes others miserable too, and often makes the problem worse. Your boss isn’t going to appreciate when you create more problems for her. So buck up, kiddo, and do the best you can to FIX problems rather than CREATE them.
6) Volunteer for tasks which help you boss. This is part of being viewed as an excellent and valuable employee. When you understand what your boss’ goals are, and take on extra tasks which help ease the burden, you’ll be a keeper.
7) Offer solutions along with the problems. You’ve heard this before, of course, and maybe have gotten weary of the advice. But when you present an issue to your boss, you’ve increased their workload, set obligations and tried to form commitments. Your manager has a complex life already. If you have any thoughts of a solution, offer it up. Offer to help CREATE the solution, and then you’re reducing the workload.
8) Say thank you – sincerely, with no expectation of getting something back. When people can honestly offer support and thanks for each other, you’re forming a solid relationship. But it has to be freely given, not coerced.
9) Help others be productive too. Your boss is responsible for the results of the WHOLE team. So when you can help others, you’re helping the boss. Just make sure that this help is welcomed by the others, and comes in ADDITION to doing your own excellent work.
10) Help your boss look good. Everyone wants to look good and be appreciated. If you can help promote your manager to HER superiors, that will help her to be more effective in the political environment she struggles with every day.
Of course, there’s no sure thing. You could do all this for your manager, and still lose your job despite his best attempts. Or he might be a jerk and not appreciate your efforts.
But most people aren’t jerks. Don’t come to that kind of judgment until you have a lot of evidence. Once you’ve put someone in that classification, you’ll give up trying to improve things. Then it’ll be time just to move on.
by Carl Dierschow