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  • Writer's pictureElissa Shuck

How To Make a Difficult Boss Your Biggest Fan

Back when I worked in retail, every day we were challenged to "make your day". We checked sales hourly and recorded it on a tracking sheet which already had the hourly sales on it from the same day last year.

If we were running ahead, yay! If we were running behind, then we would put a strategy into play to make up the difference. As the day went on if the trend for making the day didn't look good, then there was a whole lot of drama to deal with (internal and external) depending on how the month was going and who was your manager.

For a while, I had a manager who would call first thing the next morning and yell at me if I hadn't made my day. I honestly don't remember the specifics of what was said. Maybe it was constructive and helped me get results back on track. But I can tell you the anticipation of the call put a serious knot in my stomach on the way to work that morning. It wasn't a sustainable situation. Eventually, I never got yelled at again. And it had nothing to do with whether I made my day or not. I even became someone my manager trusted as a leader on the team.

What did I do to turn things around?

I got proactive. When I didn't make my day, I made sure I was the first person to bring up the situation the next day because I called versus waiting to get the call. Acknowledging my results head-on told my manager that I took my business seriously. It also put me in control of the situation. I didn't have to dread the call. Instead, I chose the encounter and my attitude toward it instead of being a victim of it.

I had a plan. My call wasn't just about admitting failure. It was about evaluating the day - what went well, what didn't work and what I was going to do differently. I created and shared my plan of action with my manager. The best part was it gave us the opportunity to talk it through, make changes and especially let my manager know I could be trusted with what was entrusted to me.

I appreciated my manager's position. My manager was an incredible business person. Smart, articulate and one of the hardest working people I'd ever had the honor to work for. I don't think calling team members to yell at them about results was something my manager looked forward to doing. The truth is my manager was being held accountable for making the day too, and probably under more pressure to do so than I was.

I anticipated my manager's needs. Real trust is built when we do what Stephen Covey calls, "Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood." The cool thing about this approach in your interactions with your manager is that it becomes more of a partnership in getting results versus a strict manager/employee relationship. Amazing things happen when your manager has confidence that you understand their pain points and are doing your best to make their life easier.

What has worked for you in building a great relationship with a difficult boss? Tell me in the comments and let's help each other.

Hey, we spend 25% of our lives at work. What's the saying, love what you do and you'll never work a day in your life? I say love your work life!

What do you do to create a great working relationship with your boss? Share in the comments!

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