By Adelia Cellini Linecker
A recent Gallup poll pegs two of the top reasons people leave their jobs Their manager either doesn’t help them succeed at work or doesn’t value them as a human. But if quitting isn’t an option, learning to improve work relationships is key.
“You’re going to have a spectrum of bosses,” said Mary Abbajay, a workplace consultant and author of “Managing Up: How to Move Up, Win at Work, and Succeed with Any Type of Boss.” “It’s like a puzzle. You have to decide: What is important to them, and how can you work with them and learn.”
Here’s how to succeed with any type of boss:
Handle this boss with care. “You have to be thoughtful,” Abbajay said. “Sycophants are most likely to survive (this boss); it’s sad but true.”
But you don’t have to sell your soul to be one of the survivors, Abbajay adds. “Find a good side. You don’t want to be inauthentic,” she said. “If you want them to shift behavior, focus on how your ideas will improve their image. They don’t have empathy, but they care about their image.”
The upside to having this boss? They tend to be very successful, Abbajay says. You can at least learn a lot while you stick with this boss until you find a better fit.
The impulsive boss
Wait for the storm to pass. Don’t react to every idea. Recognize the good intentions behind this type of boss. They often want to make a difference and are open to new ways to achieve this goal.
“Let them talk about it and tell them you will think about what they’ve said,” Abbajay said. Come back later and show them what can be done and what really isn’t achievable, she adds.
Be careful not to be a yes person with this boss, no matter how enthusiastic they seem. They are likely to change their minds often, and you will have wasted your time planning for all the ideas they had.
“Don’t jump down the rabbit hole too quickly,” Abbajay said. “Wait three or four days; if the idea stuck, then work on it. Pay attention to your boss’ rhythm without being a wet blanket or rolling your eyes. Don’t be an Eeyore.”
As frustrating as it is to know that your boss won’t ever speak out or stand for anything, especially if it’s controversial, this boss offers opportunities for you to shine. Fill the power vacuum with honorable intentions, Abbajay says.
Say you’re tired of working with a team of slackers, but your boss just shrugs it off because in the end the work gets done (mostly by you, of course).
“Step up without undermining your boss,” Abbajay said.
Offer concrete solutions to your problem. Bolster their position by giving them options and information.
“Say: Here are the three ways we can fix this and here’s why you should consider them,” Abbajay suggested. “It helps them develop a backbone.”
First set aside your ego and assess if your boss is truly incompetent or if you’re overrating your own abilities. If your boss is truly in over his or her head, step up, compensate and deliver. Your assistance will be noticed and rewarded, Abbajay says.
“You’ve got to look at it from a different perspective,” Abbajay said. “They got the job for a reason. Try to learn what you can from them. Maybe they are afraid of making mistakes in a new position.”
Don’t gossip about your boss’ failings or your prowess. Make your boss look good instead. Most people know who the competent people in the organization are; you want to look like a team player that can be trusted.
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