How to tell when you should leave your job is actually very simple: If your boss loves you, stay. If your boss does not love you, assess where you went wrong, and decide if you can fix it. If not, it’s quitting time.
The problem is that most people take very little responsibility for making their boss love them. Which, in turn complicates the decision about staying or leaving. Your number one task in a job is to get your boss to love you.
This means that you find out what your boss cares about, how your boss likes to communicate, what scares your boss, and how you can help. Of course, your career goal is not to help your boss. But if you boss loves you then he or she will help you to meet your career goals.
Here are common problems people have at work: Boring assignments, inflexible schedules, no recognition, too much red tape, no upward mobility. But these are all problems that disappear when your boss loves you. When your boss loves you she helps you figure out how to get around this stuff. When your boss loves you she’s like a teammate, trying to help you get what you want for your career.
But this should come as no surprise because the way to get your boss to love you is to worry about your boss’ career. See your boss’ roadblocks and get them out of the way. Understand your boss’ dreams and make it your job to facilitate them. Put aside your idea of your job description and just focus on what will help your boss.
How do you do this? Here are six steps:
1. Attend to detail. The details of your boss. You should be sure to learn something about your boss from every exchange you have. If you do not learn from the exchanges then there is probably little depth to your conversations, and that is the first step to a vacuous relationship.
2. Make each conversation meaningful. You can infuse meaning into your conversations with your boss by probing a little bit each time about what your boss cares about. Why is he or she rushed today? Or, by the way, what is the big deadline that consumed all of last week? Even something as basic as “How was your weekend?” is a fine way to learn something about the boss.
3. Listen to gossip. You can learn about your boss from watching him deal with other employees. Listen carefully to what co-workers say about your boss. Whether it’s true or not is secondary to how your boss is perceived in the ranks. The more you know about your boss the more you can cater to her.
4. Express gratitude. If you let your boss know what you appreciate about her, she’ll open up to you more because you will feel safe. For example, you can thank her for steering you away from a mine field in the marketing department. Or you can tell her you appreciate how well she did during a difficult moment in a meeting. Be specific and she will be flattered and touched. That will create a connection you need to understand your boss better.
5. Get over your shyness. Because if you are too timid to initiate conversation then you will not get to know your boss enough to make your boss love you. To get yourself talking, remind yourself that everyone wants to feel cared about. It’s hard to manage people because it means caring a lot about other people and it’s pretty one-sided. A manager will be thrilled to hear that a direct report cares about him.
6. Identify the culprit. Take a look at your track record. Have most of your bosses loved you but one doesn’t? Then it’s probably not all your fault. But most people who are not loved by their bosses were never loved by their bosses. And most people who are a pain are a pain in similar ways in all of their jobs.
So instead of focusing on why your boss is difficult, focus on what is keeping you from being loveable. It’ll be worth it. But you will find that the rewards of being loved by a boss are almost endless. Most importantly, you will like yourself better and you will love your job.