*New on the blog: our Leadership Coaching Clinic, in which we answer your questions about problems you’re facing in the office, whether it’s how to handle a bad boss, how to deal with a difficult team member, or some other issue that you’re getting stuck on. Email your questions to: firstname.lastname@example.org.*
Question: How do I work with a manager who isn’t keen on working with me?
1. Clarify your working styles.
Your boss will have a preferred way of working and specific expectations on what you should be delivering. It’s in your interest to learn what these preferences are, so be sure to ask: how does he prefer to communicate (face to face, chat, email…)? How often (should you send a summary once a week or interrupt him regularly as needed)? How much does he want to be involved (should you keep him informed of every detail or involve him only when you’re stuck)? Taking the time to clarify this now will save you a lot of grief later on; and once you know the expectations you can go ahead and exceed them!
2. Help your boss to help you.
Although a good boss will try his very best to understand you, he is not telepathic. Just as you want to understand how he works, you need to tell him what makes you tick. What motivates you? What are your strengths? What are your weaknesses? Where do you need more support? Take control and be clear on how your boss can help you to deliver your best work.
3. Be reliable.
Be that person that people can count on. Meet the deadlines, deliver your projects, be collaborative. You want to be the one that managers choose when they have an important project to assign, the one they recommend for a new position, the one they think of when a promotion comes up.
4. Be kind to your boss.
*SPOILER ALERT* Your boss is a human being. Shocking, I know! As you work together, always remember this: your boss has feelings too. So when he spends his time coaching you, consider a little “thank you”. When he responds carefully and comprehensively to your long email, acknowledge the response and… say thank you! And when he appears particularly stressed or not himself, why not ask if there’s something you can do to help? A little kindness and understanding will go a long way.
5. Ask questions.
You’re not expected to know everything from day one so take the opportunity to ask, and to learn. Think of this as your apprenticeship period! People soon forget what it was like to be an intern or new hire and they won’t necessarily recognise the need to explain things unless you speak up. It’s better to ask ‘stupid’ questions at the beginning than to pretend that you know everything and then mess up further down the line. Most people are more than willing to help.
For more tips like these, you might want to get a copy of our book, How to Succeed in Your First Job. It includes proven tips on how to navigate the unspoken rules of the corporate world, including how to handle your boss.
Do you have an issue at work you’d like us to address? Email your questions to: email@example.com.