bad boss written on hand

Your boss may be killing you.

The number one determinant of job satisfaction is the relationship we have with our immediate supervisor. This relationship can catapult your career, but it can also sabotage it. The link between your relationship and your stress levels is staggering. In fact, a bad relationship with your boss can increase your risk of heart attack by up to 60%. Your happiness (and health) is strongly dependent on your ability to manage the relationship you have with your boss, and it boils down to two words: Managing up.

What is managing up?

According to Harvard Business Review, it is the act of consciously working to obtain the best possible results for you, your boss, and the organization. It means going above and beyond, doing what you can to make your boss’s job easier, managing expectations and teaching your boss how to manage you, and influencing your boss’s peers and other key stakeholders.

If you want to maximize your time, your health, and your career, start by using these 3 steps to manage up:

  1. Be Influential

    To influence someone, you have to know and understand them. Take time to learn your manager’s pressures, priorities, decision making style, career goals, personality, work style, communication approach, strengths, weaknesses and more. Then, adjust your style accordingly. This goes a long way in building the relationship.

  1. Expectation Setting = Success

    Your goal should be to gain alignment. Drive conversations to clarify expectations and to ensure you and your manager are on the same page. Here are a few questions that can help:

    • Are you in agreement on short, medium and long-term goals? Do you know your priorities?
    • Do you have a shared definition of success for outcomes and deliverables? Is there a clear vision?
    • How will progress will be measured?
    • What barriers or challenges exist? How will you address them when they arise?
  1. Own your career

    While it would be great if all managers were phenomenal leaders, we know that is simply not the case. Don’t wait for your manager to coach you, provide motivation, and drive your career forward. No one cares more about your career than you do. Take the initiative to find a mentor or seek coaching in other places. It is up to you to manage your own morale and career.

Let’s face it, bad bosses are everywhere, and the toll the relationship could be taking on your mental and physical health is huge. Most people don’t wake up and look forward to being a poor manager or employee. Assume your manager has the best intent. Learn his/her style, clarify expectation, and put yourself in the driver seat of your career. You’ll be a whole lot happier…and healthier.

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