Fixing a Bad Relationship With Your Boss

If faced with a boss who does not treat you the way you prefer, here are important steps

  1. Write a description of the problem; what you want, how the boss responds (or doesn’t), what you have done about it so far.
  2. Read the description as if you are the boss, constructing at least two alternate explanations of the boss’s behavior. Think about how the boss’s role and background shapes what the boss cares about.
  3. Try to differentiate between what you actually know and what you have assumed; you can then test your assumptions and not just act on them.
  4. Prepare to directly discuss what you want with the boss. Frame the discussion in terms of how a new relationship will benefit the business and the boss. Do not accuse or attack; you are trying to problem-solve. “Here’s how you will benefit if you meet my request.”
  5. Be ready to examine your contributions to the problem, and understand you may have to change some behavior to get something back.
  6. Aim for a better relationship no matter what the specific changes that come out of the discussion. You don’t have to be close friends, but work to become a junior partner, who wants the boss, and the unit, to succeed.

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