Thinking that you boss hates you is a really tough thing to face whether it's perception or reality. We know from our research data on happiness at work that it's something which can drain your confidence, decrease your resilience, affect your motivation and mean you fail to achieve your potential.
In fact being respected by your boss is one of the key drivers for high happiness and top performance at work. And if you have high respect from your boss, we know a couple of other interesting facts too. High respect from your boss indicates that you'll respect him or her in turn, that they'll respect the team and that there'll be high inter-collegial respect too.
If you think your boss doesn't like you, frankly it's hard to like them in return. But there's something more serious besides. Thinking that your boss dislikes you also indicates that you'll experience much lower levels of trust. And of course there's a high cost for low trust. That high cost is paid through less comfortable communication, worse co-ordination and far less co-operation.
If that's the case for you, you might like to diagnose what's really going on, so try this formula for working out whether you think you have low trust - we call it the ROCC approach for obvious reasons. What you do is score:
Reliability (10) + Openness (10) + Clarity (10) + Concern for others (10)
divide by Self-interest (10)
The top line of the above equation should be more positive and the better the relationship, the higher the score. All those ROCC elements are negatively affected when things go wrong. The bottom line, self-interest, is always more negative. Everyone has some self-interest in everything they do - we all want something for ourselves out of work. But if the scores for the above equation is anything under 1.5 then you have a trust issue.
Recently a client asked us for a proposal over night. We were told no-one else was in the frame for the work; the client who wanted ideas to present to her CEO the following afternoon. My colleague worked hard to produce a quality document that we'd be proud to put in front of a CEO - no easy task in less than 24 hours. Having been told we'd hear a couple of days later, it then became impossible to get hold of the client. Emails and calls were unanswered; we heard different and conflicting stories about what was really happening. Finally we heard that the client was going to run the program in-house. In fact it became clear this had always been her intention. We'd been used to do her dirty work.
In fact if she'd been open and said that she wanted our ideas that would have been fine; it was the lack of clarity and concern for us that was so galling. And will make us think twice before responding again. Sadly incidents like this are more common post recession. It's easy to leg others over when things are tough; what creates credit however, is a leg up instead.
So if you want to make things better and improve relations with your boss here are ten top tips:
1. Think about what you share with your boss, rather than what divides you. Looking for similarities and interests makes discussion and connection easier and focusing on them will create a bridge rather than emphasise a chasm.
2. Tot up the times when things went well. We tend to focus on the negative rather than the positive but this may be coloring your judgement. Actively think about what goes well between you and make a note of it.
3. Reframe: instead of interpreting things negatively, try and perceive or reinterpret events and interactions positively. What's the best possible way you can assess matters between you?
4. Look for more eye contact: it's very hard to look at someone you don't like so what kind of signals are you giving off? Seek more eye contact and see what it does for your relationship.
5. Ask for small things: when we don't like someone we tend not to ask. But you'll never get a big commit from your boss without getting delivery on a few small asks first.
6. Build credits by going out of your way and making sure your boss knows about what you did; stack that credit up by saying something like ‘I know you'd do the same for me if the situation was reversed.' That's the equivalent of putting your personal marker in the ground.
7. Say something nice about your boss to someone likely to repeat it and see how fast it gets back to them: flattery gets you everywhere even when everyone's aware that precisely what it is.
8. Think about how good you'll feel when you get them on your side. Imagine that time and think about what they would like from you that's within your boundaries to give.
9. If you really want to develop good relations with your boss, what's stopping you going all the way? You might think that 50% is enough. But if you really want to make things better, what's stopping you giving your full 100%?
10. If your boss is so unprofessional that they let their personal feelings get in the way of the job, they've probably got a favorite. How can you get that person on your side? You might need to enlist some help with this, but it will be a sure-fire way to your boss's heart.
Finally remember that nothing lasts forever. In five years time you won't be working with these colleagues in this particular team in these particular circumstances. So imagine it's 2015; what exactly do you imagine you'll miss?, I'll bet there are some things you'll remember with pleasure whoever you're working for right now.