I’m fond of saying that you are in the driver’s seat of your career. But there will be many people who over the course of time influence your path.
Let’s talk about a key person who is currently influencing your path: your boss.
Your direct boss has direct power over your career path at your company. If they don’t believe in you, your career at the company will only go so far. If they are not coaching you, they are not helping you be the best you can. If they aren’t fighting for you, you will not have upward mobility.
It’s super important for you to get real about your relationship with your boss right now.
If you are lucky enough to have an awesome boss, you already know it. You don’t need a questionnaire to tell you so. Great bosses stand out and are instrumental in your professional development.
It is just as easy to recognize if you are working for a terrible boss as a great one. If they are abusive or just a crappy person, you understand what you need to do. You can’t let your career sit in their hands. You need to move on. Find a way to transfer to another team or department or start your job search ASAP! Crappy people won’t change. They might apologize for their behavior with empty words or gifts, but they will never change. Break the cycle and move forward.
So, what about most managers, who fall somewhere in between amazing and crappy?
Sadly, the world is full of mediocre managers. Here’s the truth about most managers in corporate America. Chances are, your manager was an active individual contributor who earned more responsibility, including direct reports. But being great at a craft doesn’t automatically translate to being great at managing people.
If your boss isn’t one you’ll fondly remember in your career, this doesn’t necessarily mean you should leave. A relationship between a manager and an employee is a relationship between two people. You are 50% of the conversation, so you can do your part to connect better.
What do you love about your boss? What frustrates you about the relationship? Take out a piece of paper, draw a line down the middle, and list your thoughts. Put it on paper; it will help you process the information better than just thinking about it.
Once you have that side-by-side comparison, review it with objective eyes. Perhaps some qualities or attributes you admire in your manager could help improve the weaknesses in your relationship. Can you gracefully suggest how to improve your interaction? What do you contribute to the items that frustrate you? Could a change in your behavior help ease your frustrations?
Take action where you can. If you can make appropriate suggestions, open a dialogue. This is a two-way street; you may be surprised how much you can improve the situation. If you wait for things to change, they won’t. Things will probably get worse if you don’t act. You are a vital person in this relationship: take action.
If you are looking for more detailed advice on how to how to turn your boss into your best advocate, download my free checklist on this topic.
What if your boss is mediocre? They’re not inspiring you, but they aren’t doing anything to offend you, either. Consider your answers to the following questions, as they are the deal-breakers.
Is your boss giving you helpful feedback and coaching?
Even if the information doesn’t come gracefully, you want to be receiving feedback. If your boss is not giving you insight into how you are performing, they are not investing in you. It’s time to find a new boss.
Is your boss singing your praises?
You will know when your boss is proud of you. People remark on it. You get copied on notes. Your boss’s boss knows you, or they don’t. If your boss isn’t sharing your successes, this is another big fat clue they have checked out. It’s time to find a new boss.
Is your boss taking credit for your work?
Here is the mother of all deal breakers. If your boss is taking full credit for your work, and not giving you praise or accolades, she cannot be trusted with your career. It’s time to find a new boss.
There are so many people in this world who settle for crappy relationships. I don’t want you to be one of them.
Don’t just hope things will get better. They won’t.
Life is too short. There are other jobs. There are other managers. Work to make your relationship with your boss better. If you worry you are beyond the point of no return, make a move and find a new boss.
You aren’t someone to settle for being a backseat driver in any other facet of your life. Don’t settle for less now.