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Difficult Manager? How to Get Your Boss on Your Side

Personality and work style differences can make for a complicated work environment, and if you and your boss clash in both those areas, your productivity and career success might be threatened. However, changing a few of your habits and positioning yourself in a different way to your boss can do much to strengthen your relationship.

While it may be easy to fall into the trap of negativity when you don’t have the best boss/worker relationship, consider instead aligning yourself as an ally, therefore taking away any competition or conflict that has held back your professional relationship in the past.

Here are some ways you can get along better with your boss so he or she becomes your career advocate.

Build your boss up

One way to get your boss on your side is to help make him or her look good. “If your boss isn’t a ‘numbers guy,’ be the Excel guru,” says Tim Toterhi, author of “Shaping Your Success Story” and founder of Plotline Leadership, a career services company. “If she struggles with words, [give her suggestions to] help her presentations sing.” In addition, it’s important to be dependable. “Make sure your normal job duties are automatic points on the board. Speaking of boards … be a sounding board. Offer advice if asked.”

Be career self-aware

You should strive to make an impression in your role, just be careful not to come across as a threat to your boss. “Too much ‘I’ language is dangerous,” Toterhi says. “A good boss will want to develop and advance talent, but give the impression that you are gunning for her job and you might find yourself ostracised. Ask for help—both how you can go [above and] beyond for your boss, and if they will support you in your goals.”

Focus on visible accomplishments

You may be proud of yourself after dealing with a particularly difficult client and want to spread the word about your accomplishments, but if your boss prefers a heads-down approach to business, you might be better off letting the results sing your praises.

When sharing the success story with your boss, Toterhi says to “explain the challenge you faced, the action you took and the results you achieved, like the increase in production or number of additional sales. Also, supplement with stories: Gather praise from customers and key stakeholders that show you are able to build relationships while getting results. Finally, work on team contributions and present a few examples of how you helped others on the team get results…and balance with how they helped you.”

Use performance reviews to your advantage

It may be difficult to muster up the courage to discuss your working relationship with your boss, so try to weave it into another official conversation, such as your performance review. You can use the time to not only talk about your goals and achievements, but you can also discuss ways you can better serve the team—and your boss. By showing a willingness to strengthen—and if needed, repair—your relationship, your boss will see that you take your role seriously and are ready to further advance your career within the organisation.

Getting on your boss’s good side will help keep your career moving smoothly, and it will also create a better environment to work in every day. Even if your boss doesn’t ever completely warm up to you, accept that you are a hard worker and care about your job, and let that positivity show in the workplace. “Practice the behaviour you want to see and it will catch on,” Toterhi concludes.

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