Solution Saturday: The Question I Should Hear

“How can I deal with a bad boss?” The question usually suggests a desire to changing them. I wish more people asked, “How can I connect with the boss?” (Regardless of whether they are bad or good.)

An adversarial relationship with the boss hurts you more than them.

Performance matters, but connection tips the scales when it comes to getting ahead.

choose connection over affection when it comes to the boss

The person with power controls the way you relate to them. Adapt to the boss. Resist this principle to your own peril.

Learn to connect with your boss, forget about changing them.

12 ways to connect with the boss:

  1. Amp down ambition. Talk about passion to contribute, more than drive for promotion.
  2. Express a viewpoint and offer alternatives. Don’t just go along. 
  3. Have passion with openness. Advocate clearly, but don’t paint yourself or others into a corner. Support decisions that weren’t your first choice.
  4. Strengthen relationships in the office. Energy spent in conflict resolution is necessary, but it often frustrates the boss.
  5. Understand and embrace organizational mission and vision.
  6. Earn it. Don’t ask for favors. Earn opportunities to serve.
  7. Prove it. Seize and succeed with small opportunities. Entitlement offends your boss.
  8. Shine the light on others when you win.
  9. Own it. Fix it. Don’t blame.
  10. Focus on their strengths. All bosses have faults. Give compliments but don’t brown-nose. Honor the boss’s strengths and achievements during private conversations.  
  11. Say thank you when you receive feedback.
    • Avoid defensiveness.
    • Exemplify humility.
    • Identify desired behaviors.
    • Move forward.
  12. If you must leave, leave on good terms.

Bonus: Acknowledge faults, but don’t be needy.

Choose connection over affection.

It doesn’t matter if you like your boss – apart from your performance – no one has more influence over your career. 

How do people create unintended adversarial relationships with the boss?

How might team members connect with the boss?