But if your relationship with ‘the boss’ is less than stellar, it can make the 40 hours a week you spend at the office a living nightmare.
Computer technician Steve Moscarelli explained the headaches he endured under his last boss.
“My boss was on a flight that was delayed and asked me to pick up his kids because he had just gotten divorced …I picked them up at preschool and they vomited and I had to get the car washed,” he said. “He was the CEO so I had no choice.”
Management consultant Susan Kennedy cancelled her honeymoon because of a crummy boss.
“He knew I was getting married, he knew I was planning to go on my honeymoon and he said you need to do this, this, this and that so I wasn’t able to do that without working through the night for the next three days so I cancelled my honeymoon,” she said.
If you’re frustrated about how you’re being treated by your superiors on the job, a Toronto entrepreneur has come up with some ways to help you win the office politics battles.
“Two types of people in an organization: the overly political, who just know how to play the game beautifully, and the under political who want to hide their head in the sand,” Frankie James explained. She runs the website officepolitics.com.
Disgruntled workers around the world log onto her site looking for advice on how to deal with sticky situations at work, and experts give their advice.
She’s even created a game that teaches her techniques to win at work.
“Don’t be shy about finding ways to send the message that you’re working hard,” she advises. “A little bit of self promotion is a very politically-savvy thing to do.”
Here are some general ways you can improve your relationship with your boss:
- Try to figure out the source of your boss’s difficult behaviour – if you think it’s related to the stress of the work environment rather than his or her character, it could be changed. If on the other hand you think it’s simply their personality as opposed to the work environment there’s less chance the behaviour will change.
- Try to take charge of your own emotions in terms of how you react to your boss’s behaviour. Don’t try to stonewall their efforts or counter-attack.
- If you feel comfortable with it, try to communicate your concerns to your boss in a positive, helpful way – with a focus on finding a solution.
- There’s a difference between discussing concerns with someone and confronting someone. Try to speak with your boss in a non-adversarial way, otherwise you risk doing more damage to the relationship.
- If your boss is critical of your work, try to see the criticism as information that can help you improve your performance, not a personal attack. Try not to react defensively or emotionally to the criticism.
- Remain a professional. Even if you don’t like your boss as a person, you do have to stay professional in the office and do your job as required.
- Before discussing a concern with your supervisor, try to step back from the situation and evaluate your own performance. Ask yourself if you did everything right or if there’s anything else you could have done. Consider getting a third-party opinion by asking a co-worker.
- If you have a problem with your supervisor, don’t go over his or her head to their supervisor. It’ll likely only increase the conflict in the office because your boss will likely feel you betrayed them, and could try to get even with you later on. Try to talk to your supervisor first and only go over their head as a last resort – at least it won’t come as a complete surprise to them if their boss brings the issue up with them.
- Everyone likes praise – your boss too. So if they do something that you feel is worthy of praise, compliment them. It might inspire more good behaviour.
- Document everything – your successes, your interactions with the boss (good and bad), and any issues that have come up between you. Archive emails in a separate folder. Verbal discussions are difficult to prove, but emails and other hard copies can provide evidence to back you up should a conflict arise.
- Leave the work behind when you go home. Try to separate your work life from your home life because if you don’t you’ll only add to your level of stress. Try to make sure not all your friends are ‘work friends’.