Improving your alignment with a demanding boss can be challenging yet it is critically important, following are some best practices that can help. Which ones are you currently applying and what one or two might you be willing to experiment with?
Take responsibility for the relationship: Don’t expect your manager to change, sure, things may shift as your relationship evolves but take proactive ownership of the relationship.
Align on Expectations: Every relationship is unique, including the one you have with your manager. If you aren’t clear on what success in your role looks like, take the initiative of reaching out yourself. Minimize ambiguity on performance; clarify expectations, and results.
Empathy and Compassion: We often hear the expression, “put yourself in their shoes”. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? Just because it’s simple doesn’t mean it’s easy. Try understanding your manager’s perspective, and their challenges, make a list of their top 5 qualities. If we can see things from their perspective, we often spark some inner-compassion for the person and a genuine desire to help.
Proactive Communication: Keep your manager updated on progress, challenges and results. Be proactive, don’t wait until a problem becomes critical, do your best to minimize negative surprises. Request recurring one-on-ones as a structure for consistent communication, relationship building and mutual trust.
Demonstrate a Growth Mindset: Your willingness to seek feedback on your performance, strengths and growth opportunities combined with taking action on the feedback sends a powerful message on your level of commitment and mindset.
Share Success: I’ve had many clients think “my work should speak for itself”. Well, yes and no…it’s important to keep your manager updated on successes (as well as challenges). Give your manager the information she needs to manage up effectively, think about her boss, what style does your manager’s manager lean into? Do they empower or dig into the details?
Stay Positive: Do your best to keep a positive attitude. Set time aside to manage your priorities, this in itself helps keep a positive perspective and helps navigate stress and setbacks more effectively. Keep it real yet hold that growth mindset.
Look after yourself: Notice your physical and mental health. Take frequent breaks during the day, set boundaries, prioritize and delegate, ask for help, reconnect with outside of work activities that bring you joy.