Is Your Boss Impossible to Please?

Have you ever thought that your very best still wasn’t good enough? It’s a frustrating place to be when no matter how hard you try, you feel as if you’re doomed to fail. Unfortunately sometimes we can feel that way when it comes to serving a boss. Some leaders have high standards that can be a challenge, and a few have standards that are impossible to reach!

On the flip side, really high standards can be a good thing! When your leader expects a lot out of you, you expect more of yourself. When the bar is set high, you’re more likely to work harder and stretch your own abilities further to reach it. If you’re struggling to work for someone who seems impossible to please, here are five tips to help you rise to the occasion when it comes to serving your leader.

Know their priorities.

Do you know your boss’s top three goals or priorities for the year? If you don’t know what they’re trying to accomplish, you’ll have a hard time serving and supporting their efforts. Look for what your boss notes are “wins,” and watch closely to learn how they define success at work. Then, make their priorities your priorities. Here are some questions you can ask:

  • How do you measure success?
  • If we only accomplished three things this year, what would you want those three things to be?
  • What are your top three expectations of me?

Find common ground.

Do you have a relationship with your boss? Do you feel comfortable approaching him with questions or frustrations? Identify your commonalities (even if it’s just that you both want the company to succeed) and use that as a basis for moving forward together.

Assess your efforts.

Can you honestly say you are giving 110 percent to the relationship and to your work? Have you taken the time to try to understand your boss? If you don’t clearly understand why your performance isn’t measuring up, ask, and be specific. For example, “What are three things that I can do to immediately improve my performance?” Then use that feedback to adjust your production, and circle back in your next one-on-one to discuss if your improvements are hitting the mark.

Carry their load.

One of the best ways to bridge a gap between you and your boss is by sharing their load. Look for opportunities to take work off of your boss’s plate without them asking. Anticipate their needs and proactively meet them. Just begin by asking, “What can I take off your plate?”

Have an honest conversation.

Don’t be afraid to talk about your performance concerns with your boss. Schedule a one-on-one and simply tell them that you feel like you’re not meeting expectations and you want to know how you can improve. Read back to them the feedback they give you and clarify specifically how you will adjust your performance.

If you’re doubting your performance, take the initiative to learn how you can improve. Your boss will appreciate your desire to learn and grow, and you’ll become a more valuable employee!

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