A common theme with those of my clients who are unhappy in their current role is that they have difficulty working with their boss. It can make even the perfect job a miserable experience, hinder your opportunities for development and progression and sap your confidence if you feel that your efforts are not valued.
So what should you be doing to manage upwards?
1 Work out what is important to your boss. Make an effort to get to know them and find out what goals they have both on an organisational and personal basis. Try to get to know them personally (much easier to connect when you find something such as interests or hobbies in common) although keep a respectful distance. Be aware of what pressures they are facing too.
2 Establish the best way to communicate. Is your boss someone who wants to know everything well in advance or doesn’t want to be bothered with details? Make sure that you have an approach to communication which means that you are very clear about their expectations, can make sure that they know about your successes and can warn them of problems in advance.
3 Adjust your approach to suit their personal style. Do they prefer to read through information in advance or are they happier to listen to you talking it through? Do they make decisions based on logical reasoning or are they more comfortable going with their gut feel? Do they like to focus on one thing at a time?
4 Be assertive when you disagree; respectfully and constructively put forward your argument. If you are being overloaded with work be clear about when you can complete tasks or ask them to prioritise what they have given you.
5 Don’t cover up your mistakes; be clear and present your suggestions for how to sort out the consequences and prevent it happening again. Ask for feedback and career advice from your boss – show that you respect their opinion.
6 Demonstrate your ability to achieve without too much direction – be proactive, ask questions and anticipate what needs to be done and get on with it.
7 Thank your boss when it’s appropriate – but don’t overdo it!
8 Identify their weaknesses and when you can, try to make up for them.
9 Keep your head up and do a good job even if you don’t like your boss or they are bullying you. Be careful if you want to complain about them – probably best to keep this to home ground and certainly never in an interview!
10 Know where your boss stands in the company – who do they know, what reputation do they have, and how you can capitalise on this by getting them to help you to extend your network.
Hopefully they won’t be your boss for long!