Do you have a boss who leaves you starving for more…direction, feedback, inspiration, vision, and the list goes on and on? Research show that the greatest determinant of whether one stays or quits their job is the centered on the quality of their relationship with their boss. But I often see more muted scenarios where my clients certainly don’t hate their boss, actually they really respect them in many regards, but are quenched for more…direction, feedback, inspiration…..and there just does not appear to be as deep a well as they’d hoped there be from their superior(s).
So, what’s an aspiring high flyer such as yourself supposed to do when faced with a boss who isn’t terrible enough to make you want to leave your job, but certainly does not give you the boost, strategic oversight, cheer-leading, training….(you fill in the blank) that you are secretly craving?
Here are some factors that could be at play:
Just like all parents are not ascribed the mandatory parenting skills in the delivery room; not all managers are natural people developers nor do they necessarily value that skill set (despite what they say).
If the leaders at the top of your organization don’t value, model and ‘walk the talk’ of effective management development, then chances are your boss isn’t going to feel too inclined to fall in line with those disciplines themselves.
Giving them the benefit of the doubt, beyond your boss not knowing how to properly give you what you need, or feel so inclined, they also may not have a clue that anything is missing in your relationship.
Here are some suggestions on how to manage your underwhelming boss:
Find a way to tactfully ask for what you need from your boss, backing up your requests with a business case mentality (meaning, if you give me ‘x’, it will help me do ‘y’ so much more powerfully because, ‘z’).
Observe the manner in which your boss speaks to others in your office and notice if there are similar patterns as those in your relationship (leading you to realize her or his possible limitations or biases with certain personality styles/approaches). Based on those observations, adapt your style accordingly.
Once you are very clear on what you need in order to reach your prescribed or self appointed goals, find alternative ways to get what you need to reach those ends (meaning, you may need to garner what you are not getting from your boss from other sources).
Adopt an entrepreneurial mindset, even if you are working within a large organization, roll up your sleeves, and get creative in order to uncover the fuel you need.
Come to terms with the fact that you boss has limitations and figure out a plan for how you can manage that disappointment while keeping your eyes on YOUR prize.
Try to determine what makes your boss tick. What can you do to set them up for even greater success?
Evaluate periodically (every 6 month) how this ‘situation’ is impacting you both in the short and long term and whether it is worth staying given the limitations of their development.
I’d love to hear from some of you about how YOU have managed or are managing your underwhelming boss. What’s worked? What’s backfired?