How Can I Get Along Better With My Boss?

I was hired on as a project manager six months ago and I’m having trouble with my boss. It isn’t that we have knock down fights. She and I just don’t seem to connect and work well together. I don’t want to look for another job so what can I do to make this work?

First, congratulations, for taking responsibility to making this situation work. Sometimes good managers primarily focus on managing their staff which is certainly important. However, they forget how essential it is to manage their boss as well if they want to succeed.

Here are four tips to start building, or more likely, rebuilding your relationship with your boss:

  1. Let go of your frustration.
    If you resent working under a manager you don’t like, you might perform below your abilities. Don’t let yourself fall into that trap. It could be a career killer. Not only does your boss manage the everyday things that you do, she is the gatekeeper to many of the things you want. She has the power and authority to control items as significant as work assignments, promotions, increases in compensation… and more. In the best-case scenario, the boss can leave, you may get transferred to a more promising area or you may find that he or she wasn’t so bad after all.[su_spacer size=”10″]
  2. Understand your boss’s management style

There are different styles of management. Some are better than others in certain situations and for certain people. Your challenge is figuring out your boss’s style as well as how to adapt to it so that you can connect and work better together. Here questions to get you thinking about your boss’s preferred way of managing.

  • How does your boss like to receive information? Is it memos, email, face to face, text or a combination?
  • How does she handle bad news or unexpected events? Does she go with the flow or get stressed out?
  • What type of communicator is your boss? Is she direct and to the point or more of a talker?
  • Does she prefer things “by-the-book” or is there a lot of room for adaptation?
  • Is her preference for daily progress reports or at the weekly staff meeting?

By recognizing the management style your boss uses, you can start to uncover the sources of disagreement or miscommunication and hopefully do something about them.

  1. Make the boss as effective as possible.

When things are going well and you feel comfortable, schedule a time to chat about how you and your team can better meet her goals and the goals of the department. Ask here these two questions:

  1. What do I do and what do my people do that helps you succeed in performing your job responsibilities?
  2. And what do we do that hampers you and makes life more difficult for you?

You need to find out what your boss needs and expectations are what gets in the way of meeting those expectations. Also, realize that it is in your self-interest to make the boss successful. Therefore, when you perform in ways that make your boss look good, she will get noticed and commended from her boss. Then hopefully she’ll make a mental note of your contributions.

4. Finally, don’t bad-mouth and avoid war at all cost.

Handle disagreements with your boss with particular care. Let her know of your concerns and suggest possible solutions. Your goal is to influence her to see your perspective. Also, support your manager’s position in public as much as you can and do you best to make policies and decisions work, rather than try to subvert them. The painful reality is that the boss has better access to power and influence at the top. If you take on this person, chances are you will lose. Therefore, work with, not against her!

Smart Moves Tip:
Don’t hide! It’s natural to yield to the tendency to minimize interaction with people we don’t see eye to eye with. Reducing your daily contact with your boss can cause a further loss of trust and respect on both sides. And a lack of communication can foster misunderstanding, mistakes and more problems. So, check your ego and attitude at the door and start rebuilding that relationship. Also, see Emotional Intelligence Strategies for Managing Your Boss and Are You Building Bridges or Walls?

How well do you manage your boss? What are some of the issues that have caused you problems? How have you handled them? What lessons can you pass on to others about managing their boss?

My motto is: “If you do what you always did, you will get what you always got. Therefore, MOVE outside of your comfort zone; that’s where the MAGIC happens. To bring that magic to your leadership Subscribe to “Coaching Clinic” Marcia’s monthly Execubrief with additional insights, intelligence, and inspiration on leadership and career topics.


Marcia Zidle
Marcia Zidle
Marcia Zidle, The Smart Moves Coach, is a national known board certified coach and keynote leadership speaker who guides organizations that are planning, or in the midst of, ambitious growth and change. As a career strategist, she works with professionals, managers and executives who want to build • shape • brand • change • vitalize their careers. She’s been selected by LinkedIn’s ProFinder as one of the best coaches for 2016!Her clients range from private owned businesses to mid-market companies to professional service firms to NGO’s. With 25 years of management, business consulting and international experience, she brings an expertise in executive and team leadership; employee engagement and innovation; personal and organization change; career building and development; emotional and social intelligence. Your Future Starts Now With Marcia!

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