If only there were a manual for Building Your Own Boss! Much like parents long for the instructions for children, employees wish for the secret sauce, special code, or magic bullet to turn their boss into someone who values and respects, recognizes, remembers, and understands all they do. What we often forget though is that we play a role in that behavior. We do train others how to treat us and in this case, that applies to your boss. What are you doing to build a better boss relationship, so that you increase the likelihood of being able to ask for what you need and actually getting it?
So, in honor of Boss’s Day on October 16th, here are a few ways you can give your boss the gift of a better relationship with you.
Remind Yourself that Your Boss is a Person First, Boss Second
One of my former bosses was a wonderful woman who drove me crazy at the time. In fact, one of the things I could not understand at all, as a recovering workaholic, not yet in recovery back then, was how she would interrupt a team conference call (of about ten mid-level managers in three time zones) to take a call from one of her children. And she would TELL us this… “Oh, hang on, this is my daughter (or son) calling.” I used to think she was nuts and was amazed how she could get away with this. But, in hindsight, as I grew older and had my own personal priorities, I gained tremendous respect for the boundaries she was able to set, the balance she seemed to maintain, and her stance when it came to recognizing what was the most important priority for her. In hindsight, it was her human side and the glimpse we saw of her as a person that I now remember most. People will remember people, not what is on their “to-do” list.
Always Look for that Internal Kernal of Potential
I’ve always said Boss’s are people, too. They do things you don’t like, or as I say “fascinate” you, sometimes on a daily basis, just like all those other people in your world. But, they also do things that you really appreciate, or at least I suspect they do and that’s what you keep an eye out for. Look for the internal kernal, so to speak, of potential in a budding respect or professional mentorship. Look for the potential of what you can learn or grow from in your experience of being a direct employee who works with them. Look for ways in which you can grow and develop your own skill in light of their wisdom or even experience. If you are consistently looking for positive potential, more than likely you’ll begin to see more and more of what you are looking for.
Understand, Intellectually and Emotionally, What Drives Them
We tend to look at individuals, bosses included, through our own filter and from our own perspective. This is no shock, or shouldn’t be and we do it all the time. However, if you become aware, at an emotional level ,of your own reactions to the behavior of others and understand that these reactions come from a gap between your expectations and their actual behavior or actions, then you can consciously control your reactions more effectively and start to understand where your boss is coming from. Some people are motivated by “getting things done”. If that’s who you work with, then their every waking moment is seen as an inhibitor or contributor to getting stuff done. Your interuption of their work day, in which you expected to get an accolade or acknowledgement of your work, may have been an interuptor to their nearly completed project for which they were feeling a good bit of pressure and garner a reaction that didn’t meet your needs. Were your expectations in line with theirs? Nope. Neither were theirs in alignment with yours. Thus the emotional reaction from both of you. A greater understanding of what motivates the boss you work with will help you to understand why they do what they do and foster a stronger working relationship. The mutual understanding is truly contagious!
As much as we would like to think things get done because someone in a position of power willed it or commanded it to be so, the truth is things get done because of relationships. You want something done, build a better relatioship with your boss and those you work with. You want more recognition, better projects, a listening ear, a better understanding of what all you do, a raise, better hours… etc… build a better relationship with your boss. It may not all happen over night or happen at all, but it is a far more effective place to start than merely complaining about what you don’t have and expecting something good to come from that. Building a better relationship is key to most of where we want to go, how we want to feel, and what we want to do. Whom do you need to build a better relationship with… starting now?