Thank goodness for bad bosses, who else could we blame, hide from or complain about? Seriously! Sometimes, well deserved. On the other hand, sometimes they get a bad rap. Most leaders really do want to be good bosses. Your boss needs to get significant results and needs your help. Most bosses want to respect, love and reward you for good work. And most want the same in return. How much we love or hate our jobs is often boss related. Could a conscious decision to build a positive and productive relationship with your boss work in your favor? Try these tips to show your boss a little love and you just might love your job even more.
“Top managers love people and they want to be loved —
turns out being loved is good for your career.”
Chade-Meng Tan, Google
1. Go first. Show appreciation for your boss’s strengths, accomplishments and leadership style. Avoid thinking that leaders don’t need praise. The key is to be observant and find specific examples where you can give sincere acknowledgement of how they helped you and the team. During a recent project crisis, my husband was grateful that his new boss gave him the autonomy to handle it – he felt trusted and it turned our brilliantly for the company. Great feedback….now tell your boss!
2. Bosses are human. We all have a personal style, hot buttons and weaknesses. Take the time to walk the halls in the shoes of your boss (see Style Matters). Pay special attention to understanding from their point of view what they react negatively to, what they respond positively to and how you can add value in their areas of weakness.
3. Ask. Recognize that your boss is not a mind reader AND has their own agenda. Leaders must balance your needs with those of others, including their boss(es) and your customers. Ask for feedback regularly, ask for resources and help when you need it. Communicate the business value, be persistent and be flexible in your request.
4. Think Big Picture. Continuously learn about the whole business and take initiative to interpret the connections and impact your work has on larger operations. There is great opportunity for those who bring these strategic insights, ideas and solutions to most bosses.
5. Be positive. Respond to ideas, changes and new tasks with a positive approach. Acknowledge first what value you can see and then describe “what it will take to do this”…. instead of “we can’t because.”
6. Ask better questions. Ask about your boss’s main priorities, what is most challenging, stressful, exciting right now? Continuously ask yourself “How can my work support those key priorities?”
7. Deliver. May seem obvious, but be sure you are on the same page with both WHAT you have committed to and HOW those results get delivered. Most critical is to keep promises, know how your boss wants to be involved along the way and give plenty of advance warning on any misses.
8. Promote Yourself. Ideally, our hard work should speak for itself… AND it rarely happens. Everyone is busy, focused on their work and the next pressing crisis. It’s important to tout your merits a bit. The key is to share them in terms of best practices learned and results gained for the team.
9. Go Last. The best leaders are also good followers. How can you support your boss’s career goals? Share information that will keep your boss from unhappy surprises, never go above them or gossip behind their back. Invite their input and review of your ideas first in areas important to them.