Topic of the Week Manage Your Manager
- Earn their trust.
- Seek common ground.
- Play to their strengths.
- Challenge quietly.
Boss Shouldn't Be a Four Letter Word: Manage Your Manager
How important is it to have a good relationship with your boss? According to a recent survey by CareerBuilder.com, very important. Workers were asked, what would make you happier: a pay raise or a better relationship with your boss? One third of those surveyed said a pay raise, while two-thirds opted for a better relationship with the boss. Why is this relationship so important to so many employees? Because the boss usually controls the dynamic. Which reminds me of a belief that is held by many Nepalese about how to survive a cobra bite. Bite the snake back and the venom will be rendered harmless.
Biting back doesn't work with cobra bites or your boss. You've got to be a lot more creative that than when you disagree with the person who signs your paycheck. And there will always be times you'll have to disagree. I know what you're thinking, but my boss can be a real jerk so I avoid disagreements. Well, you're not alone. A poll by Tell-Your-Boss.com found that 42% of us feel that our boss doesn't work very hard, 31% felt uninspired and unappreciated by their boss and 18% said their boss had little or no integrity. Ouch. Here are four strategies for coping with a difficult boss.
Earn their trust. Let's face it, they're the boss and it's your job to get along with them. It never ceases to amaze me how many people write to me thinking that it's the other way around.
Seek common ground. It's easy when you are angry with your boss to hyper focus on all your areas of disagreement. But that will only push you further apart. That's why I always try to focus on our areas of agreement. That allows me to find projects or assignments that we can work together on.
Play to their strengths. It's rare to meet someone who has absolutely nothing to offer you. Okay it happens. But I once had a boss who was a total cross-the-"t"-and-dot-the-"i" kind of guy. Mostly it drove me crazy. Then I realized that he was a huge help at critiquing complicated proposals or PPTs. Seek out your boss's strengths and try to use what they do well to your advantage.
Challenge quietly. There are times when you can't avoid a conflict with your boss. During those times it is very important to do whatever you can to take the disagreement off-line. Don't do it in a staff meeting or even in a public place if you can help it. Also see if you can hold off on even talking about the conflict until a time when they're in a good mood. You can't always do this, but when you can time it with a good mood you'll notice that your odds of a successful conversation increase dramatically.
Your boss may do a great impersonation of a snake, but you'd be better off trying to charm that particular kind of snake than to bite it back.
Bob Rosner is a best-selling author and award-winning journalist. For free job and work advice, check out the award-winning workplace911.com. Check the revised edition of his Wall Street Journal best seller, "The Boss's Survival Guide." If you have a question for Bob, contact him via firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thought of the Week
"When you are asked if you can do a job, tell 'em, 'Certainly I can!' Then get busy and find out how to do it."
Weekly Comic by Jerry King
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