Thank God It's Monday!® Blog

Owning Your Relationships

Last week we talked about how important it was for you to create a great relationship with your boss—assuming the best and owning the responsibility of having a great relationship.

We talked about how for more than 75% of employees, dealing with their immediate supervisor is the most stressful part of their job and the research that shows that half of employees have a shaky relationship with their boss.

Let’s cover several more ideas about how to make a better relationship with your boss.

Take yourself lightly—and your results seriously

You’re boss’s boss demands results and so therefore…well, that means you need to produce results. Stay playful and fun AND make sure you hit your deadlines and your goals. That’s the job.

Next: Be Dependable

If the project is due at 3:00 every Thursday, then, well, it’s due at 3:00 every Thursday…Even if it’s your busiest week for the year. Even if you have a hang nail. It’s just plain due at 3:00 on Thursday.

You shouldn’t need reminders and cajoling to get your work done—if the work is due, the work is due. If the outcome is defined, then find a way to hit the outcome.

Simple. Easy. Just be dependable.

Next, be genuine.

There’s a funky thing that happens when someone isn’t performing. They become disingenuous. They start looking for people to blame. On the top of the list is always—the boss.

But it’s not the boss who isn’t performing. It’s you. So, stay sincere and stay humble. Deal with it by being authentic and ask for the help you need. We all get off track. Character is revealed by how we handle those situations.

And next, be resourceful.

Learned helplessness is a growing phenomenon—you see it all the time. People who say, “Well, I don’t know how to do that so I stopped.”

Well, here’s an important distinction. You weren’t hired to quit…you were hired to persevere. In a world where Google gives you almost every answer to every question within seconds, there is no reason to stop. Even if you can’t access Google, you still can be resourceful.

Next, anticipate needs.

A friend told me once how he moved up the ladder with record speed to become the assistant to the General. He started in the mail room. And while dropping the mail for the general said, “General, if you’d like, I can open the mail and draft an initial response to every piece and then make the changes based on what you tell me to do.”

After just a few letters, he was advanced to one of the top positions in the army. He anticipated needs.

How can you find ways to add more value and anticipate the needs of your supervisor?

Start applying these 11 ways to improve your relationship with your boss and watch your career blossom.

Nurturing the Relationship with Your Boss

Your relationship with your boss is one of the most important relationships that you have.

Yet, studies show that for more than 75% of employees, dealing with their immediate supervisor is the most stressful part of their job.

This person decides whether you’re getting a raise. She decides if you are going to be promoted. She mentors you to grow to have more learning opportunities. Or, if things don’t go well, this person decides whether or not you are promoted or moving on to “free up your future.”

Many employers will only hire people that they can get references from through the last three direct supervisors—they’re not interested in talking with coworkers as they know that the direct supervisor is the only person who really understands the results the person created and whether that person was trustworthy.

So, why do so many people speak badly of their boss and create a dysfunctional relationship with their boss? M.S. Rao says that 50 percent of employees have a shaky relationship with their supervisor.

Here’s the amazing prediction that is almost always right—If you don’t get along with this boss, you probably didn’t get along with the last one and you don’t need a crystal ball to know that you’ll probably not get along with the next.

Yes, there are differences in people but the reality is that your boss is imperfect, but at the core—probably a good human. So, when you take responsibility to get that relationship on the right track, you can create a relationship that works.

So, how can one of you make the relationship better for the two of you?

First, decide that YOU are the one to make that relationship better.

Here are 11 ideas that will help you take 100 percent responsibility for that relationship—and that is the only formula that will make this relationship better. We’ll start off with 6 this time.

1. Find out how your supervisor wants you to communicate.

Does she prefer email? Or perhaps she wants you to bring 5 to 6 things at the end of every day that are near completion to get approval for the completion. Or perhaps she doesn’t want to be surprised. Or perhaps she wants to be hands-on all day long and wants to hear from you often. You can’t possibly know unless you ask. And every boss is different—so if it isn’t working for this one but what you did worked for the last supervisor, just know that you need to adjust. You are 100 percent responsible for relationship, remember?

2. Create a relationship of respect.

According to a recent Harvard Business Review article, over 54% of employees claimed they do not get respect from the leaders. But do employees treat their managers with respect?

Regardless of where the respect is missing, own the relationship. In other words, if your manager is treating you in a way where you feel disrespected, ask for what you need to feel respected before the sun goes down—TODAY. Don’t brew. It sounds like this. “Hey Ron, when you double-checked my work on the TPS report after I had spent 6 hours double-checking my work, I felt awful—like you didn’t trust me. Can you tell me how I can make it such that you don’t feel like you need to double-check my work?”

By assuming the best and seeking to try to understand why that person was double-checking your work, you are showing that you are bring your “fully grown-up self” to the table.

3. Show appreciation.

According to a recent Accenture study, the number one reason people leave their jobs is lack of recognition—at a whopping 43%.

Sure, your boss probably could do a better job appreciating you.

Now, let’s get honest here—is the carpet worn at the entryway of your boss’s door from you going in to appreciate him? “Gee boss, thanks for giving me the opportunity to learn something new.” or “Thanks boss, that was very considerate of you to spend time with me to go over that project to make sure it was impeccable.” Or, “Thank you for making sure that we all get our questions answered quickly—I know you work extra hours to make that sure we have what we need and I, for one, am grateful.”

Yes, you can appreciate your boss—and you should.

Here’s an interesting thought to contemplate that you WILL resist. Most people who feel underappreciated tend to be under-appreciators. Let that one settle in after you resist it for a while.

4. Make sure your boss knows what you’re doing.

Is your boss a micro-manager? If so, you might want to own your part of that situation. Very few managers want to be micromanagers. And yet, they have a fiduciary responsibility to the organization to make sure that you are doing the right things, getting them done on time, and doing them the right way. IF you are not communicating with your boss about where you are at with each project and making sure you get conditions of satisfaction and ask if you have met conditions of satisfaction, well…expect to be micro-managed. But stop blaming your boss for that.

5. If your nose is out of joint, say something.

Most bosses are working in business because they wouldn’t make it as a psychic. Let’s face it…it’s not fair for you to be upset with your manager and not say something.

Conflict in the workplace is normal. Heck, if you’re not upset with your coworkers or boss at least weekly, likely you’re not hustling enough to push up against some things. IF you care, you WILL push up against others.

But, when your feelings are hurt, simply explain what was done, how it made you feel, and ask for an alternative behavior in the future. There. See? It’s not that hard to be a grownup. Grownups HAVE conflict daily. It’s how we handle it that reveals our character.

And last: Create trust

A study done by StaffBay of 15,000 employees showed that 87.2 percent of participants didn’t trust or like their current boss.

The amazing thing about these bosses is that they’re usually fairly decent humans. Think about it. Do you really think that 87 percent of all people are shady and untrustworthy?

Often, not trusting your boss is an unfair projection of your stuff.

Sure, your bosses make mistakes and blow it every day all day. He misses meetings. She forgets to get your salary increase in on time. He forgets to thank you for the all-out effort you did on the Fenwood account. But, do you think everyone of these things comes as a result of nefarious intent? A decision to be hurtful? Not likely.

It’s far more likely that your boss, like you, is human. Therefore, she is flawed and imperfect.

If you see every mistake as coming from a dishonorable character flaw, well, perhaps this has less to do with your boss and more to do with you not coming from a genuine and open place.

Remember, it’s your 100 percent responsibility to create a great relationship with your boss. And it is likely that your boss is not a descendent of Attila the Hun.

Next week we’ll talk about 5 more ways to improve your relationship with your boss.

Eliminating Toxins

Last week we talked about pot stirrers and how they stir the pot—indirect comments that look innocent on the outside but are designed to cause problems.

First, if they say ANYTHING negative about anyone EVER, with kindness and directness, simply say, “Sounds like there is an issue between you and Tom. There’s always two sides of the story so let’s go over and get this worked out with him right away since I’m sure that you value that relationship with Tom.”

Don’t even think of telling them they should go talk to Tom. It won’t happen. Why? Because if what she was sharing was the truth, she would have already spoken with good purpose and asked Tom directly for what she wanted.

Second, stay away. If they try to say something negative, do not let them get past the first two words. Simply say, “Sounds like you are talking to the wrong person. Please go to Tom now so that he can do something about that.”

If she gets past the first few words, you now have an ethical obligation to be involved to more than request that she speaks to the other person—you need to escort her over to him.

And third, never take her into your confidence. Things you say to her WILL and can be…probably used against you.

Fourth, don’t react emotionally to their stirring the pot. She WANTS drama. Don’t feed the monster.

Last.. bring the behaviors to the attention of someone who can do something about it. Speak in facts. Don’t say, “James is a jerk and I don’t trust him.” Instead say, “I have some concerns about the impact James has on the team. I’d like to share three instances of behaviors that are unsettling, and that don’t fit the value of our organization where we require direct communication.”

Stay Away From Pot-Stirrers

If your organization is devoid of pot stirrers, you’re lucky. It seems at least one gets into every organization.

They are not happy unless there is chaos—much of which is created by them. They are your best friend one day and stabbing you in the back, complaining about your competence to your boss the next—all the while having set you up to miss the deadline that they’re complaining to your boss.

They say seemingly innocent statements with a sting like, “I don’t know why you work such long hours—I really value MY family.” Or “Gosh, there has been a lot of turnover here—I wonder who is next.” Or “I suppose we won’t get bonuses this year because the boss just invested in a new machine.”

They tend to have turbulent and unstable relationships at home and at every job they have. They describe almost every boss they ever had as being “untrustworthy” or otherwise evil. Of course, it has little to do with their bosses, but they always need to make somebody wrong and bosses are an easy target. In reality, their projection of their own issues is endless.

The scary part is you think you’re safe to listen to them—they DID of course tell you that you wore a halo. But that’s just part of the manipulation. Behind your back, if not already, real soon, you will be the devil.

They try to make you feel like you are safe to be the recipient of their gossip. In fact, no one is safe around them—you included. Just because they perceive everyone as either with them or against them, being on “their side” today is fragile and you will be the one “against them” as early as tomorrow.

So, what do you do if you have a pot stirrer in your midst?

Next week we’ll cover the four things to do if the toxic impact of a pot-stirrer has entered your organization.

Inauthentic

Great businesses are composed of ordinary people who decide to come together to be GREAT. This happens best if we take a moment to define things that keep us from being our higher selves. And one of the biggest is inauthenticity—living and acting contrary to our own stated values and the team values we’ve agreed to.

You see it in many forms. Jim goes home each day and complains about his boss, but never goes to his boss and asks in a professional way for what he needs.

Jennifer doesn’t tell the boss she stopped doing some monthly report because she didn’t think he’d notice.

Tom comes late to work each Tuesday because he knows his boss is out on Tuesdays and probably won’t find out.

Inauthenticity is made up of those slips of integrity that people rationalize because “everybody does it.” Soon it permeates the workplace and kills the souls of the people who do it, not to mention those who are around it.

When someone in a workplace decides to begin living and working authentically, no matter what, it becomes contagious. It can be the beginning of a genuine transformation that sweeps through the culture of a company. I’ve seen it happen, over and over and over.

Make the choice today to become the great contributor you know you can be by putting inauthentic behaviors behind you once and for all.