To many people, the phrase “managing your boss” may sound unusual. Because of the traditional top-down emphasis in most organisations, it is not obvious why you need to manage relationships upward. If you didn’t already know, the most significant factor impacting your job satisfaction is your relationship with your direct manager.

Successfully managing a difficult boss is a challenge but often feasible. Most problems at work stem from bad communication. If you can improve the communication flow between you and your boss, you’re on your way to an improved working relationship and a happier time at work. Here are some tips on how to go about doing that:

• Be clear about your career goals. A good manager strives to advance his or her employees into roles that are well-suited for their personalities, skill sets, and career goals. The more your manager knows about where you see the easier it is for them to empower you to achieve those career goals and set you on the right path within the organisation.

• Introverted and extroverted bosses require different communication styles. When you want to build interpersonal relationships with people, including your boss, it’s important to understand what makes them tick. How do they communicate and where do they get their energy from? These aspects of personality are usually determined by a person’s level of extraversion.

• Find out what type of boss your manager is: a harmonizer or an advancer? Harmonizers value people, relationships, stability and harmony. They want to help people be successful and happy. Their favoured approach is to get consensus and to mediate between disparate opinions because they believe that the best solution is one where everyone is on board. Advancers are highly focused on tasks, achieving results and acting. They are usually less concerned with building warm and fuzzy relationship. They are direct in their communication, sometimes even abrupt.

• If your boss is a micromanager, work on gaining their trust. Start by recognizing that micromanagement is really a trust issue. Micromanagement as a management style doesn’t even work. It fosters an air of distrust throughout the culture, increasing turnover and ultimately driving away top-performing employees. Trust is the solution to lagging culture and employee performance due to micromanagement problems. Trust creates engaged employees. People who know they are trusted are motivated to continue to earn that trust. They have confidence. They respond to the gift of trust with loyalty and hard work.

• The absentee manager. The absent manager is one of the most frustrating to have to deal with in my opinion. Absentee leaders tend to be psychologically absent from their employees and shy away from any meaningful professional interaction with them. Absentee bosses represent the extreme and worst of laissez-faire leadership. Whatever the reason behind your boss’s absence in the office, there are strategies you can out in place to manage the situation. The first step is to get on with your work. Another way to cope is to view her/ his disinterest as an opportunity for you to step up to the plate.

• Working for a narcissist boss. Narcissists have an exaggerated sense of entitlement and require constant admiration. They are quick to claim credit for others’ achievements and blame colleagues for their own failures. They care only about their own success, and they’re willing to take advantage of others to get what they need. To have difficult conversations with a narcissist boss you’ll need to show exaggerated amount of respect and deference. Keep him/ her feeling secure and superior, always acknowledge his authority as a prelude to giving your opinion.

• Empathize with your incompetent boss and don’t be too quick to dismiss her/ him. Dealing with an incompetent boss can be anguishing and taxing. But with the right mindset and a few practical tools, you can not only survive but flourish. First, it helps to understand why she/ he is so poor at her/ his job. Second, try to discover what your incompetent boss is good at, rather than only focusing on weaknesses.

• Breaking up with a bad boss – end toxic work relationships. For those of us who have grown up with the philosophy that winners don’t quit, walking away from something can feel like a shameful failure. But the truth is that when it comes to bad bosses, sometimes you just need to do the unthinkable: leave. A bad boss can not only hinder the development of your career, but the negative impact can extend far beyond the workplace into other aspects of your life.

Final thoughts…
Employees assume that the nature of this relationship is determined solely by the manager. In reality, you can take steps to reshape this relationship with your boss in ways that will add to your job satisfaction. After all, you are the employee with the most to lose if this significant relationship is not effective.