You have landed your dream job in the heart of the big city where the crowd of hustling pedestrians are numerous and the glass-pane skyscrapers are mountainous. For the most part, the struggle of waking up before lunch time has finally become manageable and commuting through morning traffic is no longer intolerable. It took some time but you have crafted the perfect go-to coffee order and established a routine for how to tackle the multitude of e-mails that flood your inbox during the few hours you are not online. In a moment of reflection, it seems as if you are getting the hang of working where you can sort of describe it as enjoyable. You could almost categorize it as the ideal job if you just didn’t get stuck with the most difficult manager in the firm. Similar to any relationship, at times you may feel misunderstood or mistreated but in order to improve the status from “It’s Complicated” to something better, it must start with accepting responsibility for your role in the affair.
Do Your Part
The first mistake people make is believing their manager is impossible to work with. The second mistake is believing the issues cannot be fixed. The employee-manager relationship is made up of two entities – you and your manager. It is very important to understand that your manager is the constant factor and that you are the variable. You can’t change your manager but you can change your behavior and actions. If the end goal is to improve the equation, see how the variable can be manipulated in order to work with the constant factor. Is your manager always forgetting what was discussed in your previous meeting? A solution is to take meeting minutes and send it to him so that he has notes to review. Are you always waiting on your manager’s response on how to proceed with next steps for the project? Come up with multiple solutions you think are a good idea so that he already has solutions to work with. The idea here is not to wait around for your manager to act so that you can react. Be proactive rather than reactive. Always see what extra research you can do before coming to your boss with questions. And if you must ask questions, ensure him that you have already done the due diligence to try and find the resolution. This will allow him to get to your needs quicker and more efficiently while reflecting positively on your ability to take initiative and provide bright ideas.
Don’t Assume, Communicate!
While employees may feel that their manager does not know how to properly manage them, managers can express similar feelings about their employees. This is due to people having different styles of working and not properly communicating this to each other. For example, Wonda frequently instant messages her boss Ron on the company chat server with questions. The questions are extensive and full of detail but she needs the answers immediately. She waits patiently for Ron to respond but he never does. Wonda becomes upset and believes that Ron is always too busy for her. On the other hand, Ron appears to be online in the chat server but never receives any notifications that people are messaging him. He does not keep up with the chat rooms well but is much more active through e-mail where he responds very quickly. Because he never receives any e-mails from Wonda, he is under the impression that she does not need any help. If Wonda and Ron established their best method of communication, they would have come to realize that e-mailing is the preferred method to getting messages and receiving replies.
The example of Wonda and Ron is meant to present a common scenario where not communicating can lead to misconceptions. An open discussion with your manager is the best way to avoid this issue. Talk about how you work, what your manager can expect from you, and what you need from your manager. Your manager should also do the same. This can include questions such as, “Are you task-oriented or goal-oriented?” or “How often do you need one-on-one meetings?”. Laying down a solid foundation for your relationship will help prevent future misunderstandings.
The lesson here is that you cannot pick and choose your boss and you cannot control what they say or how they act. The only thing you can do is own your part of the relationship and find the balancing act that will make it work.