Your boss is important to you. He or she will have a major impact on you and your career, as well as your happiness at work. If the relationship is poor then this will make a huge difference to your life overall.
We asked leading career consultant, and ex HR Director, Simon North for his advice on how to make sure that this key relationship works well for both you and your boss…
“We need to recognize that managing our bosses well in the present will make a difference to our future, because they will always be a part of our past. Recognize that you have responsibilities for your relationship with them as much as they do for theirs with you.
Here are my 7 tips for getting the best relationship with your boss:
- Review Your History. It’s useful to know the history you have with your boss. Why did they hire you? Where do they believe you add most value to them and the team they lead? Are you similar? Are you different? From their perspective, what is it you’re capable of that makes the relationship work well? Seek to understand and be curious about them and their world. Work at it.
- Manage Yourself. Your personal organization and the way that you manage yourself make a huge impact on the relationship with your boss. If you say you will do something make sure you do it when you say you will. Understand what matters to your boss and what key things you need to attend to. Sometimes this might mean a critical self-assessment of just what you’re doing for the team.
- Be Sensitive to Micro-managers. Perhaps the issue is your boss is a micromanager. As frustrating as this can be for you, understand that people micromanage for a lot of different reasons, with stress and insecurity usually at the root of most of them. Try to see things from your boss’ point of view and do what you can to make life easier for them. Ask them what they need from you, be punctual and productive and discuss with the rest of your team what you as a collective can do better.
- Be Clear With Advocation Managers. At the other end of the spectrum is the ‘advocation’ manager, who’s quite happy to delegate everything. This may not be a bad thing but can become irritating when this manager is taking credit for work that you’ve done. Be very clear with your boss about what he or she wants you to do and then regularly exchange updates throughout the task, preferably in writing, through emails and such. Therefore you have a record of who’s doing what and can track what it is you’ve done on a day to day or week to week business.
- Pick your Fights. Workplaces are emotional places because we spend such a lot of time there and have so many different relationships there. Also, our work often matters to us because we identify with it so much. Hence any situations that are emotional are going to have tensions that can lead to stress. It’s easy to see how and why we may end up picking a fight. But let’s just consider who wins in a work fight? It is highly probable that if you try to take on your boss, you won’t get anywhere at all. Instead of picking fights, pick your fights. Ask yourself if something is really worth getting into before you go there.
- Position Yourself. You want to position yourself well in the workplace by getting noticed by your boss. Watch and learn from those you consider to be the best colleagues at doing what they do. Identify and observe the really powerful individuals within your organization. You’ll get greater opportunities to develop yourself if you follow their example. These are likely to be the very same people who your boss knows and respects.
- Remember Your Uniqueness. What makes you unique? You want to forge a clear pathway on the things you bring to the workplace. And you want to ensure that you are able to do your work whilst retaining balance and integrity and that people are clear on who you are. Staying true to yourself whilst managing your boss will ensure your reputation is good and that the boss will always give you a positive reference.”
Simon North is Founder of Position Ignition, a leading UK Career Consultancy and is also co-author of their eBook ‘Sell Yourself With Confidence: 100 Tips on Selling You’. Simon co-founded Position Ignition to provide career consulting to people looking for guidance and support through their career change, new career direction, job search and career development.