No, this is not a post about finding a new job in a week, sorry! This post is for those of you who dread Monday mornings.
Okay, lots of people dread Monday mornings, but you start thinking about them as soon as your work week finishes Friday afternoon. Your Saturday mornings have lost their sweetness because you know what’s waiting for you back at the office on Monday morning.
Why? Because you don’t get along well with your boss.
You wish you could do something dramatic like you’ve heard about in a country song, or read about in the news. However you have to support yourself (and maybe a few other people too).
Before you start polishing that resume and reaching for the fax machine, I’d like to give you a one-week challenge. Maybe it’s not possible to have a new boss by Friday, however a fresh approach could make a difference in your work life (and your stress level).
What I will ask you to do will be hard. However, if you will stick with it and be consistent, I promise you will see change.
The first question I’d like to ask you is, if you were the boss, what would your ideal employee be like? Grab a sheet of paper (or sticky note, or whatever you can find), and jot down three things you would love to see in someone who works for you. I’ll give you a minute to do that.
Okay, got your list? Let’s come back to that in a minute.
Maybe you’re asking yourself, “What does she know about having a difficult boss?”
I have officially been in the work force for 25 years now and worked for companies from tens of thousands of employees down to just a handful of employees. I have had mostly great managers to work for.
I have also had a couple that were so difficult that Monday mornings were not always easy. I handled each situation differently. I’ll let you know which one had the best turn out.
(I have never seen the movie Horrible Bosses but I promise you these people weren’t that bad!)
Before this man became my boss, we were peers on the same team. There was a lot of camaraderie, joking, and team outings that went on. This man was truly a pleasure to work with as a teammate.
After he became my boss, that all changed. He began treating me like someone that couldn’t be trusted. There was no more joking, no more camaraderie. He was very reluctant to give me a day off that I needed here or there. He seemed constantly displeased with my performance and our work relationship deteriorated.
The situation escalated to the point where I truly dreaded Monday mornings.
The outcome of this particular situation was that it was never really resolved because soon I went to work for…
This particular boss was one of the most intelligent, skilled people I had ever worked for. He knew how to do things with excellence and expected that of everyone around him. However, I felt he didn’t trust me to make decisions as well.
We butted heads a lot. I felt like I had no freedom. I suppose I thought I had a lot of great ideas as well.
We’ll get back to this boss later.
If you’re serious about improving the quality of your work life and your relationship with your boss, keep reading. If you don’t want to work hard to see these changes come to pass, click that little “X” in the upper right hand corner of your screen. Of course, I’m hoping you’ll stick with me and experience a breakthrough by the end of the week. ☺
Before, we get started…
Grab a legal pad and a pencil (or a tablet and a stylus).
Steps 1-3 are to be done over the weekend (or whenever your days off are).
Walk a mile in his moccasins
This isn’t going to be a literal exercise. However, it will give you a vigorous work out and get your heart pumping.
I want you to write down (or think about) everything you know about your boss’ personal life (and I don’t mean juicy gossip). For example, is he married? Does he have kids? What do you know about the kind of home life he has? Does he have any challenges at home? Does he have two ex-wives that he pays alimony and child support to? Does she have a special needs child at home? Is she a widow?
Got all that? Good.
Walk a mile in her pumps
Now I want you to write down everything you know about his (or her) work life. How many hours does she work a week? What time does she come to the office in the morning? What time does she leave? What is her boss like? How many people report to her? What is the political environment she has to deal with every day at work?
Put your boss’ thinking cap on
Now, make a list of what you think your boss’ ideal employee would be like. Write down all the traits you believe your boss would like to see in his/her direct reports.
Now grab the list you made earlier and compare it with the list you made for yourself earlier.
Some of you are starting to feel uncomfortable. You don’t like where this is going.
Believe me, I understand. But before you click or tap that little X on your screen, hang with me a little longer.
The next steps are for the work week. Implement them if you dare. I dare you.
ONE WEEK CHALLENGE
1. Be on time
Hopefully this one made your own personal list of an ideal employee.
Of course things do happen (childcare drop off, traffic jam, etc.) that occasionally make us late to work, however if you have been habitually late, your boss notices and it undermines your credibility in the work place. If you want to gain some respect back, this should be the first thing you do Monday morning.
In fact, if you can, on the first day of your “Have a new boss” challenge, show up thirty minutes early just for fun.
2. Do everything he asks you to do (even when it doesn’t make sense)
Okay, those of you who are thinking, “But what if he asks me to drive off a cliff!” please use some wisdom here. Do what your boss asks you to do as long as it is not illegal, immoral, or against company policy. Even the military doesn’t require troops to obey an unlawful order.
This one is a good exercise in putting yourself in your boss’ shoes. How would you like to have an employee that just outright refused to do something you asked? How much respect would you have for that employee?
3. Give 110%
Hopefully this one made your list as well. What does 110% mean? I’ll tell you what it doesn’t mean. It doesn’t mean perfection. You will wear yourself out and possibly jeopardize your health if you strive for something which is unattainable.
Instead, for one week, try doing the very best that you can.
Show your boss that you are serious about work and doing a good job. Here are a few ways you can give 110% (metaphorically speaking):
- Save the social media for break times-. Checking facebook or tweeting on company time shows a lack of respect for your company and your boss. (Most companies have a policy about this anyway.)
- Don’t go over your allotted break or lunch time. I’m sorry, but doing these things makes you come across as a lazy worker.
- Don’t fill your down time with anything other than work. If you have nothing to do, either find something to do or go to your boss or coworker and say “What can I help you with?”
4. Ask how you can help
Talk to your boss Monday morning about goals for the week. This may already happen on your job as a normal part of business. If not, ask him/her what is particularly important that the team achieves this week. Ask how you can help to achieve those goals (if you don’t already know).
5. Listen to your boss (and your coworkers)
Whether it’s formal meetings or less formal conversations by the water cooler, make it a goal this week to really listen to what your boss is telling you. Look her directly in the eye and nod. When she is finished, repeat back to her not only what you heard her say but what you inferred was important to her for the week.
If you apply these listening skills with your coworkers as well, you show great respect. That will also get the attention of your boss.
6. Don’t gossip about your boss
I know this is a tough one! However, there are so many reasons not to do it. Your words are likely to come back to you. That coworker you whispered to in the bathroom about your boss, she may have laughed along with you, then eventually told your boss in order to help her own upward movement in the company.
The hardest part can be when others are disparaging your boss. You are tempted to participate, but for one week, you will not join in.
This also includes social media. Don’t post belittling remarks about your boss, your coworkers, or your company, ANYWHERE on social media. Just because only your “friends” see it doesn’t mean it won’t ever get back to the wrong person.
I love this quote from Ecclesiastes on this issue:
Even in your thoughts, do not curse the king, nor in your bedroom curse the rich, for a bird of the air will carry your voice, or some winged creature tell the matter. (ESV)
7. Don’t take what’s not yours
Maybe stealing from the office wasn’t on your list because it seems like a no-brainer. However, it is a very common thing. If you want respect from your boss, your company, and even yourself, don’t take so much as a paperclip home from the office.
8. Remain calm if your boss gets upset
Deep breath. This is a tough one. What do you do if you have done your best, listened, and been respectful all week, and your boss chews you (or your team) out anyway?
I have a couple of quotes to throw in that address this situation better than I could ever hope to. They were written by the wisest man who ever lived:
A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. Proverbs 15:1
You may be boiling on the inside. Hold your tongue, anyway. Remember the listening skills you have been working on all week? Now would be a really good time to try them out.
If you are breathing and have a pulse, I am sure you have witnessed angry encounters (or been a part of them) between people and a worker in a store or restaurant. It can go one of two ways.
The worker gets angry and yells back. The customer storms out and will never take his business there again.
The worker speaks in a very calming, apologetic tone. The customer calms down and the two work together to find a mutually agreeable solution.
When I used to work in food service as a teenager, the joke we were taught was that the customer was always right (but usually wrong).
If you keep your tone calm and look to finding solutions for whatever it is that has your boss so hot under the collar, you will help to diffuse a tense situation and gain your boss’ respect.
Another quote from Ecclesiastes here because it speaks volumes to this situation:
If a ruler’s anger rises against you, do not leave your post; calmness can lay great offenses to rest. 10:4 (NIV)
Do not leave your post. Stay where you are. Don’t quit your job in the heat of the moment. Get back to doing what you’re supposed to be doing. Things will calm down and get better.
You might be thinking at this point that I have done a bait and switch on you. Hopefully you’ve stuck with me this far and resisted the temptation to tap/click that little X.
You were wondering what magic I could teach you to change another person into a wonderful boss.
Come on now. You are probably smart enough to know that you cannot change another person.
Whether we like it or not, our best way to learn to get along with difficult people in situations we cannot avoid, is by changing ourselves and our attitude.
For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted. Luke 14:11 (NKJV) [Emphasis mine].
Some of you reading this are thinking, hey I’m really not spiritual or I don’t really believe in the Bible. Well, the amazing thing is that these truth principles work whether you believe or not.
Which brings me to the most difficult challenge. I would like to say that I would buy you a Starbucks coffee if you can accomplish this one, however hopefully lots of people will read this and I won’t be able to afford that many cups of coffee. ☺
9. Ask your boss’ forgiveness
Search deep in your heart and ask yourself if there are any ways you have wronged your boss either in word, deed, or attitude. Then pick a moment to approach him/her and ask forgiveness. I strongly recommend you save this for the end of the week after you have had time to cut your teeth on the other steps.
You may be surprised at the reaction. You will likely see an obvious outward reaction. Otherwise you may see little reaction other than a mumbled “thank you”, however you can bet it had an impact. It will stir something inside them.
10. Leave when you’re supposed to leave
Did anyone catch the double meaning in this last step?
If your work day is supposed to end at 5pm, don’t leave at 4:45 or 4:50 unless there is a good reason and you have cleared it in advance with your boss. It goes back to the respect thing.
And for the second meaning of this step. Even when applying all the principles we’ve talked about here, you may be ready to move on for various reasons. That’s okay. Just don’t do it before it’s the right time.
If you have had a contemptuous relationship with your current boss for a while, may I recommend you wait until you see some real improvement in that relationship before you start fielding other job offers?
This doesn’t mean you have to wait until she’s ready to be your BFF and brush each other’s hair (movie reference, I know).
It doesn’t mean he invites you to his son’s Bar Mitzvah or offers you his kidney.
It may simply mean you have worked out a mutually respectful relationship.
Now back to Boss #2.
I wanted to quit that job so bad. But God wouldn’t let me. He kept telling me it was not time to leave yet.
He then began to do a work in my heart. He gave me marching orders. And I followed them.
The first thing He told me to do was everything my boss asked. So I did.
Believe me, it was a tough pill to swallow.
What happened as I began treating my boss with respect was that God began to show me my own heart. I realized how prideful and arrogant I had been.
He worked hard to get where he was and had lots more years of experience than I.
I began to notice a change in our relationship. I recall one particular incident where there was something he needed me to do and he told me exactly how to do it. I didn’t agree with his particular method but agreed to his request. A few minutes later, he came out of his office, and told me to implement his idea in the best way I saw fit.
I respected him and he gave me more freedom to try new ideas.
After a few months of this, I woke up one morning and God spoke so clearly to me I could not be in doubt. He released me to resign from my job. I typed up a letter of resignation with two weeks’ notice and took it with me to the office. I kept asking God throughout the day if He was really telling me to do this. I felt a peace all day.
I went into my boss’ office and informed him of my resignation. I wasn’t leaving because I disliked him. I was leaving because it was time.
By the time I left that job, our relationship was great. We have continued to maintain contact throughout the years and I am sure that his glowing references have been a big part of getting other jobs I have applied for throughout the years. In fact, we ended up working together again on a few projects here and there since then.
If I had left when I wanted to, I would not have learned anything and would have burned a very important bridge.
I can say of that man that he challenged me more than anyone I ever worked for. He pushed me harder than anyone and showed me I could do things I didn’t imagine I was capable of. I could have thrown all that away.
If you want to take these steps further with some spirituality, your extra credit homework is to begin praying for your boss every day. Take it a step further and pray for your coworkers, your workplace, and your customers if you have them. Also, ask God to change your heart regarding your boss.
You may not have a new boss by Friday. Your boss may never change (as far as you can see outwardly). However, you can change at least a little by Friday and even more if you keep it up.
Give it a try and let me know how things went. You may leave comments anonymously below if you wish.
And thanks so much for sticking with me and not clicking the “X” on your screen. ☺