The Tricks to Decoding Your Boss
Strategies to get you on your superior’s good side.
Imagine if, after slogging your way through school and random jobs, you finally find yourself exactly where you want to be – in a great company doing things you’re passionate about... only to find you have a nightmare boss. It sucks but if you really like this job, you’ll have to learn how to work with them.
“It’s important to balance being competent and supportive, yet not be a threat to your boss,” says Cindy Leong, a relationship coach and an Enneagram practitioner. (Read about the Enneagram personality types on the next page.)
But this doesn’t mean suddenly agreeing with your boss on everything (your inner conscience might have a fit and, besides, they’ll know something’s up). The foundation of a good working relationship is not based on a bedrock of a**-kissing.
Cindy says it all comes down to understanding where the boss is coming from. “Generally, people will want to collaborate with you if they were to share the same flow of ideas. People (your boss, in this case) would better appreciate you if you can add value to their lives and complement their weaknesses.” In other words, if you want to get along with your boss, you’ll have to spend some time thinking about how to make their lives easier.
It can often feel like clashes with your boss are personal – especially if you’re particularly passionate about the work you do. You might find some peace if you tell yourself that, at the end of the day, everyone has their reasons for doing what they’re doing. This might mean acknowledging that your boss really has the company’s best interest at heart, or that a disagreement isn’t about you but their own issues.
It’s also important not to try to do too much at once. You may risk overstepping boundaries or threatening your boss’ authority and that is definitely not going to get you anywhere. “It’s about
taking the time to learn what your boss’s expectations are, his or her working style, and how he or she would prefer to be treated,” says Cindy.
While many strongly believe in the golden rule of “do unto others as you would have them do unto you”, this does not always apply in a work context as personality types may differ. For example, some bosses prefer constant one-on-one communication with staff, while some would largely leave their staff alone so they’ll have the space to do their best work.
Getting ahead with a little compassion
You don’t have to be best friends with your boss – it’s normal that not everyone connects on a personal level. And does gender play a role? Well, maybe, but for Cindy, it’s not the biggest factor. “I believe it’s the personality of a person that matters more than the gender,” says Cindy. So put yourself in your boss’ shoes and try to see things from their perspective, and maybe one day, you’ll have a chance to move forward on their recommendation.