You get sent overseas to expand your horizons and gain a big-picture view of your organization. The only trouble is that after three years you have disappeared into a Bermuda Triangle-type situation where you are no longer on the radar screen of your boss. When you return with new insights to share, you quickly learn that your boss has certain favorites and is no longer interested in your input.
You have a new boss in HR who, besides having a poor attitude in general, asks you to implement policies that not only contravene HR regulations but your values as well. While you do not want to be uncooperative, you caution your boss that what he is proposing violates the law. From that moment on, you are ostracized by your boss and are purposefully left out of important meetings, rendering you ineffective in your position.
Can you relate to the above stories? How about being passed over for a promotion, or hearing through the grapevine that your boss isn’t pleased with your performance?
Are these insurmountable obstacles, or do they provide hidden opportunities for advancing your career?
When The Boss Gives You Lemons
In situations where you are on the wrong side of your boss, it is easy to feel defeated, hopeless, angry, and even a little depressed. I am certainly not going to suggest that you have to take lemons from your boss and turn them into lemonade.
When your boss gives you lemons, be brutally honest with yourself regarding your situation and seek to understand why you and your boss have a disconnect. Remove the emotion from the situation so that you can calculate a proactive and effective strategy. You have to be savvy enough to know that those who take charge of their own careers are more likely to override setbacks like this.
Within this context, here are a few practical pointers you can start using today.
Do you have hot buttons? What gets you excited and motivates you to do what you do?
Far too often bosses are viewed as being unreasonable and disconnected when in reality they are no different than you. They also have dreams and fears and motivations that drive their behavior. Yes, it may be the wrong behavior, but at the root of how they act is similar to what motivates you.
- Find out what motivates your boss and then look for ways to press their “right” buttons
- Be direct and ask them what you should stop doing that might trigger them
- Engage your boss with new and innovative ideas as often as you can to reclaim your value
Always Walk On The Sunny Side Of The Street
If you are like many people, your boss’ behavior can hang over you like a dark, thunderous rain cloud blocking out the sunlight. It will sap your energy and negatively impact your job performance. Focus on not allowing this feeling take control over your personality and attitude.
A few years ago, I had a client who worked for an abusive, rude boss. She managed to stay under the radar screen and discretely networked with her boss’ boss, sharing ideas in casual conversations. When the complaints against the rude boss led to his departure, guess who got his job? Rather than stay under a cloud of a poor boss, this astute female decided to walk across the street and build a relationship under the clear skies of a positive leader.
- Learn to predict your boss’ behavioral patterns and they will become a much smaller problem
- As stress tends to bring out the dark side of their personality, ask them if you can take away some of their workload
- Create opportunities to network with and seek feedback from your boss’ boss
If You Fail To Learn From History
What is worse than having a bad boss? Having two bad bosses!
Have you ever stepped back from a difficult relationship and asked yourself, am I choosing the wrong boss?
Like moths to a flame, you might be repeating history by failing to recognize it and learning from it. Should you decide to move to another company, invest time in research. Find people who can be objective and unbiased to provide you with information to get a clear picture of the company culture and in particular, your potential new boss.
In person, interview the new company as critically as they interview you. Talk to as many people as you can, asking them what they are most excited about in their roles; how they have fun at work and how long they have been with the company. Read insider reviews about the company on glassdoor.com. Adopt a mindset of cautious optimism. Be genuinely curious to learn:
- Will this culture make me happy? Fulfilled? Challenged? Successful?
- What kind of people do well in this organization?
- What type of investment do they make in developing individuals with your expertise?
- What kind of high-potential programs does the company offer?
- What personality style best compliments your prospective boss and are they known to be easy to work for?
- What does success look like and what benchmarks will you be judged against?
- Will your skills be appreciated, and do they compliment what the organization is trying to achieve?
- Why did the person you are replacing leave?
By doing your research, you will go into a new job with your eyes wide open, and your expectations reasonably set.
“I think that the power is the principle. The principle of moving forward, as though you have the confidence to move forward, eventually gives you confidence when you look back and see what you’ve done.” Unknown
I am here to assure you that you do have power if you choose to keep it for yourself and use it. By applying the above pointers, you alone will find the rainbow regarding your career and future.