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.