If you find yourself struggling in the workplace it could be because you’re bringing to your job some incorrect assumptions and expectations. Many people unknowingly bring their emotional baggage to work and if they aren’t careful, this can turn a job into a nightmare. The workplace has a number of elements: your colleagues, your boss and your actual job. All of these interact to make your day-to-day work-life what it is.
It’s crucial to understand that there are a number of types of bosses, and your survival in the workplace depends on knowing which type you have. For example, there is the sincerely supportive type who wants you to do your best and helps you do so; the laissez-faire type who gives you little direction but few hassles if you leave them be; the anxious boss who wants to micro-manage you; the “buddy” boss who behaves as though you’re friends; the critical boss for whom nothing is ever good enough, and the bully boss who lives to intimidate and exploit their workers.
If you have the supportive type of boss, most of the following won’t apply to you, but for all the other types, reading this article could make the difference between a happy work-life and a hellish one. Here are a few basic strategies for not just surviving but thriving at work:
It’s important to never bring your shortcomings to the attention of your boss. Try to frame any mistakes in the best light. If you’ve messed up and they need to know, present the information to them in the least self-incriminating way possible. If they’ve discovered an error in your work, respond honestly to their questions, but don’t go into detail about how you went wrong. You need to provide them with the facts; not ammunition with which they can harm you.
Make sure you do nothing to lower the morale of your co-workers. Coming in late or looking like you aren’t doing your work creates an atmosphere of resentment among your colleagues and annoys your boss. Most bosses like it when you’re in the background, quietly attending to your work; they hate it when you force them to take time away from their own tasks to deal with problems you’ve created. If you don’t have enough to do, consider approaching your boss and asking for more work, but remember that this could back-fire on you. Conversely, it may be time to look for greater challenges elsewhere.
If your boss is overly-critical or a bully, the administration will often support them over you, and your best bet might be to leave. Administrations don’t tend to be fair or kind-hearted; they prefer to maintain the status quo and to take the path of least resistance. The people in power might have promoted your boss because they like this person, or because they share similar attitudes. They may not know or care about your boss’s bullying. Remember, it’s easier to replace a person at a lower level than one at a higher level.
Make yourself indispensable; then you’ll have some bargaining power. If the powers that be really need your particular skill set, it will be easier to negotiate salary increases, vacations and other perks. Never assume, however, that you’re irreplaceable. The workplace isn’t the bastion of kindness and gentleness.
Getting along with everyone is essential. No matter how good your work is, if you’re not seen as likable & cooperative, the workplace won’t be a pleasant place. People frequently are promoted because they get along well with their superiors and colleagues rather than because of the quality of their work. You don’t have to like everyone – and you probably won’t be inclined to- but you’ll have to look like you do.