So, you’ve started off on the wrong foot … 

I mean with your new boss.

This might come like a surprise but sometimes, for reasons independent of you, your boss simply wants you gone so that they can bring their own people aboard. Maybe you didn’t “click” and whatever you do or whatever you say it’s not going to bring you any glory. Sooner or later you are doomed to make mistakes which will stress you which in turn will have you make more mistakes which will not throw any bright light on you in the eyes of your boss. Or maybe you already made some mistakes and he’s gotten the wrong impression that that’s all there is about you.

Well, first question to ask yourself is how hard do you want this job? Are you trapped in it because otherwise you wouldn’t be able to provide to your family? Are you aiming at higher positions in the same place and you cannot afford a broken reputation? What have you got to lose if you quit?

So make a sincere assessment of your situation and decide first if you want to fix the wrong opinion or to move along to warmer waters.

So, what can you do to fix it?

There are countless articles on the web on how to make your boss like you, or value or whatever, but all boils down to the same lines:

1. Do what he/she needs you to do. I personally had a hard time accepting this one. It basically means putting your own ideas, priorities and wishes at the job on the second plan and do, at least first, what the boss wants you to do. Unless you become a master influencer who manages to get the boss go your way, but that’s mostly a myth and my guess is that if you are reading this you’re not yet at this chapter with your boss.

So what does this mean:

– Keep an eye out for his/her priorities and do those first,

– Be quick, take him/her by surprise so that he doesn’t get the chance to ask for work. Prepare your work in advance at quieter times and when the right moment comes get it out so fast that he won’t even know where it came from,

– Make sure you are always ready to give an update on your tasks or files.

– Be or become an expert in your field – and if you’re having troubles with that train yourself as quickly as possible. (Re)Brand yourself as that expert.

2. Adapt your working hours to fit his expectations – another hard one, especially when you have a family at home waiting but I’m afraid a sacrifice you will need to make at least for a while. Unless you are working for a dictator, it should be possible to shift your schedule a bit here and there.

3. See him/her regularly – even if you would prefer to stay hidden in your cupboard for the entire working day go see him in a one on one meeting once a week or more often on a given project. When you do, make sure you look professional: have a list with items to discuss, the proper files with you, neatly organized and a solution to propose for every problem you raise.

4. Dress for the act – meaning dress a bit the way he/she dresses. If he wearing a suit every day without exception, it’s time to put your jeans on the shelf. If he is more relaxed then stop overdressing, he might think you are too rigid to work for him/her. If he dressed a bit on the weird side feel free to get creative on your accessories too.

5. This an tricky one. I don’t believe in sucking up. If everything, I am more of the opposite, I prefer to keep a boss at a distance until he gets my trust. Plus, any boss should be able to see right through a fake compliment. But this won’t work with every boss. If your boss is the type that likes to be surrounded by praise take a good look at what could be the right balance between your style and his egoistic needs. In other words, when you talk to them think about the one thing that he’s good at and from time to time let him hear it as long as you’re being honest.

6. If you made a mistake, admit it quickly and fully and fix it just as quick. Hiding dust under the carpet won’t take you far but you shouldn’t blurt out any small mistake you make either. Better take a low profile and make yourself visible only on your good sides.

7. It might be useful to associate yourself with the people he/she seems to like in the company. Spend time with them and get them on board on your proposals before you get to the boss, provided you trust them enough. If he likes them, chances are he would go along with a proposal if they support it too.

8. Watch your body language: take an open position any time you meet him, without crossing your arms, maintain appropriate eye contact and do not show signs of lying or feeling uncomfortable (do not cover your mouth, rub your nose or your eyes, pull on your shirt’s collar, “snarl” with anger or disgust or other alike while you talk to him).
If nothing works after a few weeks then have an open discussion with your boss about your work, what he/she thinks about it and politely tell him ask him how you’re doing. Maybe he is involuntarily doing this and the discussion will be “the” big breakthrough for both of you. Or maybe your feelings that he doesn’t like you and he never would, will confirm and then the best option is indeed to look for another job.

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