Cheryl threw her hands above her head and let out a sigh of frustration. All I had asked was how things were going with her new boss. Clearly, they weren’t going well.
Let’s step back a minute and consider Cheryl’s point of view and career objectives. Like most, she wanted to opportunity to perform meaningful creative work. Like you, she prefers to do so in an environment of cooperation and trust where efforts are appropriately recognized. And like you, Cheryl wants to look forward to coming to work and enjoying the many hours spent with associates and supervisors.
And those supervisors come in all styles and personalities. Some are easy to work with. They challenge us, guide us, coach us and bring out our best.
Others – not so much.
Our career goals are important, and our ability to pursue those goals is heavily dependent on our ability to get our immediate supervisor to support us. But with so much diversity in styles and relationships between supervisors and their teams, can there really be a ‘one size fits all’ approach that can work in every situation?
Well, the answer is a resounding – probably. As in, there are some things you can do that increase the ‘probability’ of creating a truly supportive relationship with your boss. And they all start with studying and understanding your boss’s perspective.
Allow me to explain.
Like you, your boss has valid points of view and career objectives. She or he likely wants employees who can embrace and support these objectives. Not brown-nosing goody two shoes human robots. Employees who see themselves as professionals regardless of their organizational level or responsibilities. Every supervisor wants team members who bring their best every day, come prepared and energized to take on the daily challenges of business, and will support the group’s objectives as well as their own career goals.
So regardless of the current condition of your relationship with your own boss, here’s a suggestion. Do something today to make your boss look like a hero.
- If you know that your boss is struggling with a business challenge – budget, deliverables, performance improvement, customer satisfaction, or anything else that’s important to them – brainstorm something specific you could do in your own work that would help your boss solve that challenge. Then just do it. No fanfare or glory-seeking. Your boss will see and appreciate your efforts. The halo created by your results will reflect back on you without a word being said.
- When day-to-day problems pop-up, seek solutions without being asked. Highly valued employees are those who see a problem, analyze it quickly, and then dive in to find workable solutions. The unhappy customer, the end of day deadline, and the crisis phone call that just came in all create opportunities for you to take on the role of fixer. I’m a big believer in devoting 20% of our efforts to problem identification and analysis, and 80% to finding and implementing solutions. Show your boss that you can always be relied upon to solve their headache even before they know they have one.
- Make them look good. Offer to draft documents for them. Volunteer to cover the meeting they don’t have time to attend. Reach out to the vendor or contractor who is causing your boss nothing but frustration and worry. And always – ALWAYS – speak favorably about your boss.
I’m fond of the belief that if you help a lot of people then a lot of people will help you. Start with your boss. Find some way today and every day to help them out and make them look good. Be the great employee they need you to be – the one who makes them look like a hero to their boss!
John J. Hall, CPA
John J. Hall, CPA, is an author, speaker and results expert who presents around the world at conventions, corporate meetings and association events. Throughout his 38-year career as a business consultant, corporate executive and professional speaker, John has helped organizations and individuals achieve measurable results. He inspires audience members in corporations, not-for-profit organizations and professional associations to step up, take action and “do what you can.”