How to Morph Your Soul-Sucking Manager into a Source of Inspiration Pt. II

Part II: How to Amp Up Your Boss's Advocacy for You

If you’re uninspired at work, your manager could be the reason. In my last blog post, I talked about the importance of learning to cope and build bridges with him/her.

In this post, I want to focus on converting those troublesome managers from a source of inspiration drain to an inspiration vein. Here’s how:

Amp up their advocacy.

Itʻs one thing to do your job well. Theoretically, anyone placed in the right role can do that. Itʻs another thing to perform so well that your boss wants to advocate for you. Perhaps your work and enthusiasm for it could even inspire him/her to be a better manager. If you do your job well, your inspired work can be, well, inspiring.

The steps that follow will enable your manager to amp up their advocacy for you, whether it’s more responsibility, new projects, or a mental health day.

Exhibit strong ownership of your work and consistently and independently take initiative.

If you’re a slug, you’re going to need a lot of Red Bull and a little more effort. Don’t make your boss wait to ask you where something is; show it to them before the deadline. And don’t let a group project excuse you from taking responsibility. If everyone else is slacking, but you take overall ownership, your manager will notice.

Engender unswerving confidence that you’ve got things covered.

You’re boss just wants to know that you know. Given that, this tactic might be the most difficult on this list. What if you’re not confident you can do the project? Ask yourself, is it lack of skill and/or resources, or perhaps just fear? If you need something to do the job, confidently ask the boss for what you need. I Don’t let fear hold you back from what could be a better boss (even the same person!) or the contentment of successfully meeting a challenge.

Go above and beyond, and think outside the scope of current projects.

Research says that 70% of the U.S. workforce is disengaged. Out of the 10 people in your department, only three of them are likely truly engaged. You need to be one of those three. Don’t be that person who clocks in and clocks out. How could you improve the project? Start small and show that you give a hoot about your work.  By the way, the first sign I saw that triggered to me that someone was ready to be promoted was when they began acting a level above their current one.  That could be you.

Always exhibit accountability, without excuses.

Big girls and boys don’t blame others or make excuses for not completing a task successfully. If you’re taking initiative and ownership, asking the right questions, and are fully engaged in your work, you’ll be tweaking things along the way, and there won’t be a need for excuses. Accountability is part of ownership (see point above). Most managers will appreciate that you unequivocally apologize for a massive typo in a mass email or accidentally posting a picture of your child on your company’s social media page. Everyone makes mistakes. What sets apart the best employees are that they take responsibility for the actions of themselves and of the team that they supervise.

Uncover issues and bring them to the table--with solutions.

Have you ever noticed that kids always say, “I’m hungry,” rather than “I’m hungry; may I please have some carrots and ranch dip?” When you state an issue but don’t offer any solutions for fixing it, then you sound like the whiny child who’s hungry. If you need resources or more time to research a solution, you’re still offering a plan to fix the issue. So, ask, or tell. But don’t whine.

Make your boss’s job easier and make them look good.

If you feel overwhelmed in your job, chances are your manager feels it more. But, the first rule of making them look good is completing your tasks fully and successfully, and cooperating amongst your coworkers.  If you do that, you’re saving your manager from spending time micromanaging you on deadlines. The second rule is to find those issues and their solutions ahead of time. A friend’s direct report found a major data glitch in how a database was calculating interest rates. It was a million-dollar save of his and the company’s success and reputation.

Don’t wait for your boss to inspire you. Try inspiring them, and they just might return the favor.