Lindsay: How do I know if my boss likes me? I want them to like me. I want him to think that I'm a top performer, that they can give me a promotion, that they can trust me with the things that matter. But how am I going to do that? I hear this question all the time as a career coach, so I want to show you the way to never walk into the room, and then how you should absolutely walk into the room when you have a meeting with your boss.
Here's how you SHOULDN'T speak and act in a meeting with your boss.
"Hey, thanks so much for meeting with me. I am so stressed out. Sarah isn't doing her part on the project even though we've told her several times what her part is. I'm way behind on emails and, honestly...have you ever just had like an existential crisis? Like what am I doing? What am I doing with my life?"
"Anyway, what do you think if, like, down the road, I would like to have like a higher position?"
"ALSO, emails...I just, I can't keep up with them. It's just a lot, you know, I'm just really overwhelmed right now."
Lindsay: DON'T DO THIS. Don't tell them that you're overwhelmed all the time. What else bothered you?
(Enter Lauren Moffatt, a kick-ass career coach who graciously agreed to play the role of Lindsay's boss.)
Lauren: Well, you came in expecting me to help you with a lot of your situations instead of taking ownership or even providing a solution for some of those things.
Lindsay: Okay, let's do that again. But this is how I want you to handle. Even if the same things are happening, this is how you want to get your boss to like you.
Hey, thanks so much for meeting. I do have a short agenda that I just want to go over with you real quick. Sarah and I are working together -- I mean, you know, we're kind of wired different, so we're figuring out how to work on this project and get it done in time. So just know that we're working through that right now. Secondly, I'm curious, do you have a solution for how you manage your email? I know that I need to figure out a solution and I wanted to see just if you had something that would be helpful.
Yeah, I appreciate that. We can talk about that.
Okay. The third thing on the agenda that I wrote and sent to you via email earlier today (wink wink), is just about my career trajectory here. I can see that it's going to take me awhile to get my footing here, but there's also some skills that I want to build and I'm wondering if there's a space for me as a leader once I have some of those skills. So, I interviewed a couple of leaders and VP's here, I just grabbed a quick 15 minutes with them over coffee. There's three big skills that I've learned that your leaders have. One is really high communication skills and being able to lead other people by being over communicative. The second one was really understanding project management, so I'm wanting to go to a seminar to hopefully learn more about that.
Yeah! And the third one was just this whole pile of soft people skills, like conflict resolution, that I haven't had to deal with yet at my level. So I really want to grow in those skills. I want to be a leader here. I love the work that we get to do, I'm really passionate about it and I know it's going to take some steps so I was hoping to get your advice on where I can start, and maybe where the company can support me in that growth.
I think that's great that you're thinking about this and that you've come to me with some suggestions that you've done your research! You are going to be hired!
Lindsay: How much did you like that employee?
Lauren: I liked that employee a lot.
Lindsay: Yes!! It worked you guys!
Here's the point. You want to make sure that you're always providing solutions. Even if you have an issue to bring up, you're actually saying, "I've been thinking about this. Here's how I think I should handle it. I just want your advice." It's never asking or expecting them to solve the problem for you. We're simply just asking for their advice based on the different solutions we have.
Another thing that bosses really enjoy is when you show that you like to be working at that company, that you're loyal and that you want to grow. But, I'm not asking my boss to help me figure all that out. I'm actually telling them: THESE are the areas that I want to grow in. How could this organization or how could you support me in this growth? Maybe there's a conference coming up next month -- any forward-thinking company is going to know that's a smart thing to invest in. So when you're coming to your boss, if you want them to like you, they need to really viscerally feel that you are on their team, that you want to be there, that they're not your enemy. You have a goal of where you want to go and you want to partner with the organization to make that happen.
There are going to be things that stress you out. And honestly, most of the time that things that are stressing you out will stress you out anywhere you go. Things like keeping up with emails or dealing with interpersonal conflicts. It doesn't matter where you work because when you put a bunch of humans together, this is what happens. So it's important to know that probably a lot of the tension that you're experiencing isn't about just your company, it's about having a job in the real world. It's about having somebody above you who dictates your pay and your level of leadership.
It's normal to have to work through those different tensions no matter where you are. So big picture, if you want to impress your boss, if you want your boss to like you, they have to know that you're on their team, that you want to grow and that you are actively finding solutions when you have an issue and you're not just expecting somebody else to swoop in and save the day.
I've been coaching young employees for over six years so I know the struggles that you're having! I want you to ask me any questions about your boss or how to handle a situation. I'd love to hear from you!
Connect with Lindsay
A conversation series between Lindsay Boccardo and Lauren Moffatt, HR expert.
Should we switch to an open office plan?
Lauren: I think you really have to respond to individual needs. Within reason, you know?
Lindsay: So before we spend $100,000 on a remodel, let's go ahead and talk to the people
in the office and see how they prefer to work. That's wild idea, right?
Lauren: So majority votes typically, and then you look to make sure that you can accommodate in whatever way that you can. There are boundaries around it, and truthfully, it's really about the relationship first. The office space can be amazing, but it's deeper than just that.
Lindsay: So asking -- what can we do to help people build relationships? Collaborate better? Because I've seen this belief that millennials want open office space and then the introverts come to me and say, "There is so much stimulation all the time. I can't focus because there's so much going on. I want to put my headphones in and get my work done." So it's not even a generational thing. Maybe create places in the office to float, and then if you need a desk and a home, you can have a desk and a home.
Lauren: Well, it's a symptom of something else they're really asking. What is the why behind wanting an open office space? Is it because they want to collaborate more? You can do that without annihilating all cubes. There's just a deeper why to a practical ask.
Lindsay: Love it.
Connect with Lindsay
“No one-not rock stars, not professional athletes, not software billionaires, and not even geniuses-ever makes it alone” ― Malcolm Gladwell, Outliers: The Story of Success
We are a lot more like animals than robots. You cannot program a human apart from their relationships. You can’t drop a new chip in me and get me to do something. You’ve got to finesse my emotions, my relationships and my environment. As highly social creatures we deeply impact and affect each other.
Then why does it feel like I was taught to be so independent and individualistic to get to where I want to go?
I don’t know the answer to that, but I know this: We need each other.
True story: I was hiking alone in Colorado two years ago. I was upset over my divorce, feeling slighted by the universe, trying to work through my own frustrations and disappointments. So without thinking I jumped on a trail and just started hiking. I didn’t care where it took me and I only had a half bottle of water with me.
The trail got a little confusing. “Ugh, WHATEVER I’ll find my way.”
I ended up on the backside of the mountain miles away from the parking lot. With no water.
In 5th grade I took a test on government - and got a a 67%. I hyperventilated at my desk. NO NO NO. Shame washed over me. What am I going to do, is this REALLY my test?
I was not used to screwing it up this bad or looking dumb. After this incident, I realized that part of the reason I didn’t ace the exam is because, well, I just didn’t care. I really didn’t care at all and my teacher was a bore. Well, I couldn’t go around getting C’s and D’s so I needed a different solution.
I’ve got it. I’m going to become a ball of stress and anxiety and fear the day I’m handed another 67%. (It never happened again…)
I realized that if I worried about a test, I studied harder. TA DAA — I found a way to get myself to focus harder — raw FEAR. And it worked. It worked so well I went to college with scholarships and took honors courses and was successful. I think?
Remember in high school when we’d have to do group projects? Maybe you were on a sports team or in math club (no judgment!).
Anyway, think about the time this went to hell. When was a time when you just wanted out or felt really stressed? I’m willing to bet that 9/10 times it was because someone was being difficult. It wasn’t because you lost, or the other team teased you… it’s because your own people, your teammates, started drama.
And that’s the same reason people get fired. No one wants to work with a dick. In the book “Hiring for Attitude”, author Mark Murphy found that a new hire lost their job 89% of the time because of attitude related issues (not skills!).
Okay so, what are attitude related issues?
The breaking point.
I told my boss I wanted to go to grad school. It would add so much value to my work! She didn’t agree. There was work to be done right now — that had nothing to do with me going back to school. Well, crap. That was the moment I knew I needed to be my own fairy godmother.
Becoming my own fairy godmother meant knowing what my deepest dreams were and then making them come true. It meant giving myself the freedom to switch paths so that I could follow my heart and not be so focused on keeping everyone else happy.
I knew what I wanted. And now I could either be miserable and blame her for not giving it to me, or I could just go get it myself. I didn’t need wands or pixie dust or the perfect wish...
How do I know if I’m getting too personal at work?
What makes someone professional? The clothes they wear? Maybe. The vocabulary in emails? Let’s be honest no one says “therefore” in real life but in a work email, seems totally legit.
Here’s one thing to think about when trying to be professional: process your feelings about whatever is happening BEFORE or AFTER the moment with your boss or team. I’m not saying to be inauthentic or not feel, simply, don’t expect your bosses or team to do for you.
The point of separating professional and personal is to keep the momentum in the project or task at hand. If you can focus on that (and filter your feelings for another conversation) you’ll be killing the game.
If you’re wondering how to handle yourself when you are PISSED and don’t know what to say in the moment, here are some ideas:
Going from monopoly to checkers and why you don’t have to be good at everything.
I played monopoly so much as a kid that we had to iron the money between wax paper. Do you remember when you could spend an entire summer day just playing a board game? The little metal dog around and around the board. I always wanted to own Boardwalk and Park Place.
Now, imagine that you’ve been playing monopoly your whole life. And your parents tell you that you’re amazing at monopoly. And one day, I walk in and tell you “congratulations, you’re now ready for the real thing. Checkers.” I grab the monopoly board, pull it right out from underneath you, all the little houses go flying, and I hand you the checkers board. We all look at you expectantly. It’s time to play, let’s go! What are you waiting for?
And you’re just sitting there holding the little metal dog like… WTF are you talking about?!?!
Where I started and how I got here today.
With my diploma in hand, I set out to do something that had very little to do with my degree from Syracuse University: raise money so I could tour the country playing in a rock band. My parents were thrilled (or not).
Growing up, I was taught to do what I love, to experiment, to try new things and be curious. The only problem was, my curiosity was real at a time that I was supposed to have a plan for my life. How could I have a plan when I didn’t even know what I liked yet?
So I spent my twenties learning about myself and the world around me. I toured with a band for six years. I mentored others who wanted to follow a similar path. I designed and implemented curriculum for college students to supplement what they were learning on campus. I lead a staff team of 20 people as a Director with Keynote for six years. During this time, I figured out where generational differences broke down… and I was hooked.