Original Spanish version published in Aptitus magazine, on May 9, 2018
It is common to see complicated boss/subordinate relationships. The causes are many: unfulfilled expectations, real injustices, or little or no recognition.
Living subjected to the unhappiness of a bad relationship with our boss is condemning ourselves to working unhappily, and if we are not happy with the work we do, it will be much more difficult to add value to the organization or advance in our career. Therefore, our relationship with our boss is probably one of the most important determinants of success in our professional careers. Remember that we all sell our professional services; therefore, the company and/or the organization that purchases them is our client (regardless of the way they pay us: payroll, fees, or invoice, for full or part-time work). This organization, in its direct supervisory role, is represented by the boss, who is clearly our main and the most direct client. For better or for worse, our boss will be our main referrer for the rest of our professional career, so, it is essential that we have a good relationship with him or her, even if our chemistry is not the best, or our work styles are different. Whether we like it or not, what our boss says about our work, our attitude, our ethics, among other work references, will impact positively or negatively on our lifelong careers.
What to do? It is important to think about our own responsibility in building a healthy, friendly, and as correct as possible boss/subordinate relationship. We must treat our boss with respect, as befits a person of authority. That does not mean trying to be a suck-up or a hypocrite, but rather very professional. Our boss is our best client and we should treat him or her as such. Obviously, we hope that our boss will also treat us with the same respect and affection. It may sound charming, unreal, and sometimes almost impossible to fulfill (and in fact some bosses are dreadful), but relationships are a two-way street and also depend on us. Our attitude towards handling this relationship will be key. It requires a lot of maturity, self-control, and above all the right perspective to understand our role in a relationship that has such a significant impact on our present and future career. Consequently, we have to decide what to do about it with strategic intelligence and a long-term view.
“For better or for worse, our boss will be our main referrer for the rest of our professional career, so, it is essential that we have a good relationship with him or her.”
It is also worth keeping in mind that often bosses have not had the proper training, do not know how to lead, have no personal talent for personal relationships, or simply may be people with a lower level of maturity, or emotional or even intellectual development. All the same, they are our clients and we have to support them with patience and respect in how to be better bosses. The success of the relationship will depend on how we decide to manage our own attitude to always maintain a professional, polite, and adult relationship with them. We have to take on that challenge, which is not easy, and take control of our career.