How to Get Along Better with Your Boss

One day, I got a call from a Senior Vice President at a major bank in NYC. He said to me, “I’m having a problem with one of my direct reports, Don. I need you to fix him.”

When I asked about the problem, the SVP shared, “He’s driving me crazy. He pops into my office all the time and says, “Boss, you got a minute?” Then he starts talking and talking–interrupting my day.  He doesn’t think in advance about what he wants to say; he just rambles. It really bothers me when he wants my immediate opinion about something that I’d rather think about for awhile. If this guy doesn’t shape up soon, I’m going to fire him.”

Sounds harsh, right? Fortunately, the boss gave Don a chance to improve. I spent four hours coaching Don and quickly discovered that he was smart, capable and charismatic. He respected his boss’ intelligence. However, Don didn’t enjoy working with his boss, because their communication styles clashed.

Don loved the bank and wanted to advance his career. So we came up with a simple strategy: give your boss what he wants.  Only then, I assured Don, will you get what you need. Over the next month, Don changed three behaviors, he:

  1. Set up meetings with his boss, rather than popping into his office unannounced.
  2. Created an outline of key points to share with his boss, rather than winging it without notes.
  3. Gave his boss data to analyze prior to a meeting, rather than sharing it during the meeting.

These were easy to implement and immediately noticed. Within weeks, the boss called me and said, “I don’t know what you did, but Don is a changed man. I’m really enjoying working with him now.” Don did not get fired. Instead, he got promoted three months later.

So, what can you do to get along better with YOUR boss?

Think about your boss’ communication style

Communicate to him in that style. Is your boss detailed? Then give him the details. Does he only want the big picture? Skip the details– he doesn’t need ‘em. It doesn’t matter whether you like details or not…go with what your boss likes.

Think about your boss’ preferences

Does your boss like to brainstorm? Then brainstorm with her. Is your boss time sensitive? Then show up on time and wrap up early. Does your boss like to analyze things before making a decision?  Then let her analyze and give her a lot of data.

Focus on what your boss needs. Then you’ll get what you need. That promotion is just around the corner.

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