For all too many of us, our faith walk can stop in the pursuit of earning a living. We can be faithful and reverent on Sunday, but come Monday, our secular selves are magically released into the world as if Sunday never happened. If we’re committed Christians, we can’t allow this. The world is looking at our behavior far more than it’s listening to our words, and it is that behavior that truly determines who we are.
But let’s admit to one thingâ”if we do have a tendency to go secularâ at work, there are some good reasons. Work is about production, procedures, satisfying customers and clients and getting along with disagreeable co-workers, isn’t it?
We may not think of it in this way, but among our co-workers is one very important one, our boss. He or she is almost certainly the most important relationship we have on the job, and it isn’t a stretch to say that how that relationship works will flow to all other relationships at workâ”it may even determine our success or failure on the job. For these reasons, it’s well worth the effort to get along with your boss.
How do you do that if your boss is, shall we say, disagreeable? With greater effort! Here are some ways to make it happen.
What ever tension may exist between you and your boss, never forget that he or she is a human being. While there is a certain amount of professional distance that must exist between a supervisor and subordinates, the more common ground you can establish between yourself and your boss, the less chance there will be for conflicts related to misunderstandings, which themselves are often due to unrecognized personal factors.
What that means in practical terms, is get to know your boss and make an attempt to let him get to know you. The more you know about each others personalities, preferences, weaknesses and even personal struggles, the stronger the bonds become and the less chance there is for conflict.
Avoid confrontational behavior
You don’t have to agree with everything that your boss tells you to do, but you must always respect her position (see 1 Peter chapter 2 ). A hierarchy is established in every organization, and that means that everyone in the chain of commandâ”including your bossâ”has to answer to someone in higher authority. Anything less can lead to chaos and that’s never a better state of affairs.
That will mean doing what the boss says even if you don’t see the logic of the order. Bosses are usually aware of situations and conditions that they cannot discuss with their subordinates, and very often they are the very cause of directives that don’t seem to make sense to those who need to carry them out. Accept that you don’t know all that’s going on and cooperate with your boss to the best of your ability.
Always do more than the minimum
The business world is awash in employees who put in the minimum time and effort in exchange for a paycheckâ”resolve that you won’t be one of them. Be someone who not only your boss-, but also your coworkers-, can turn to when the workload gets heavy or when new products, services or procedures are being rolled out. The more your boss can rely on you, the more you’ll be able to rely on your boss.
If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles.ââ”Matthew 5:41
Find out what your boss’s biggest concerns are
Every organization, and every department within it, have problems. That doesn’t mean that the organization is a failure or doomed to become one. Your boss is probably more aware of those problems than you are, and that’s at least part of what guides his management style.
If you really want to improve your working relationship with your boss, find out what HIS biggest problems in the organization are and do your best to help solve them. You’ll win more favor if you become your bosses ally than by standing off in the background as a critic.
Offer to help when you can
We all want to be able to go to our bosses when we’re snowed in and in need of help. But sometimes your boss is stuck on a major project and some of her regular responsibilities are going undone. Is there a way you can help her to do her job? Such an effort will be appreciated, particularly if she is experiencing personal problems that are affecting her ability to do her jobâ”we all have them, so be sympathetic and be ready to help. As believers, we should always be ready to step up and serveâ”even if it’s for people who have authority over us.
Avoid going over your boss’s head
Unless you’re pretty certain your boss is doing something illegal or seriously disruptive to the organization, never go over your boss’s head. And if you ever do have the need to do so, make sure you’re going with a lot more than loose accusations. If you go to upper management with anything less, you will almost certainly have destroyed any chance of a positive relationship with your boss going forward.
Criticize situations, not people, and never the boss
All departments have dysfunctions, and if possible, they need to be addressed and fixed. But when doing so, always target the dysfunction and avoid naming names. It’s easier to do this when your criticism is well thought out, meaning you take the time to observe and chronicle the problems. When you do, you’re in a position to make helpful suggestions for improvement. In fact make it a personal policy to never complain or criticize unless you first have an idea for a workable solution!
If you aren’t methodical about this, you will fall into the human tendency to complain, and that usually includes criticizing others. That’s the easiest thing in the worldâ”most of us don’t even have to work at it! If one of the people you’re criticizing happens to be your boss, you’ll do little more than destroy that relationship going forward. In fact, you might even be targeted as The Problem.
Offer praise when deserved
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirableâ”if anything is excellent or praiseworthyâ”think about such things.ââ”Philippians 4:8
And while you’re thinking about them, you might want to share them with your boss! Is your boss doing anything right? Then let her know! Are there any functions in the company or department that are flowing smoothly? Again, let your boss know, and give her proper credit.
Most of us are all too quick to complain when something isn’t right, but are we equally quick to praise when things are going well? We should beâ”all the more if we’re Christians. Part of our individual ministry is to build one another up (1 Thessalonians 5:11), and that includes those in authority.
Every one of us needs to hear praise from our coworkers, at least occasionally. Your boss is no different. A word of heart felt praise every now and again will go a long way toward building a better relationship with your boss, and might even give you the right to offer some constructive criticism every now and again.
If you get into the all too common habit of seeing your boss as an enemyâ”or at least as an adversaryâ”you will display that through your behavior and attitude. But see your boss as a friend in authority, and you might forge the kind of alliance that will advance your boss’s career and yours at the same time.
In an employment environment in which layoffs have become all too common, it could be the difference keeping your job and a long stint in the unemployment line.