Brown nose. Boss’s pet. Suck up. Call them what you want, but deep down, you may be just a SMIDGE jealous of those employees who just seem to be the apple of the boss’s eye, the ones they really trust. Now, there is a line between shameless brown-nosing and truly earning the confidence from your superiors that is takes to excel professionally. You want your boss to like you because they can count on you for anything, not because you compliment their tie every day. Earning your boss’s trust is really essential to professional success. It earns you responsibility, promotions, raises, and keeps you off the chopping block.
If you feel like your boss never asks anything of you and always asks your cube neighbor when they need help on a report, or if you are experiencing the opposite and feel micromanaged with your boss hovering over your shoulder every second of every day, your fears might be legitimate and they might not completely trust you. Maybe it’s nothing you have done. Maybe you just haven’t been there long enough. Maybe they have other “go-to’s” that they never stray from. Or maybe you committed some faux pas in the past that has lead you to be blackballed on your boss’s trust list.
Either way, there are things you can do to start gaining that ever-important trust from the “Head Honcho.” See below for tips from a Psychology Today article on building the faith and advancing your career!
Bridging the Trust Gap
Good news: you can play a proactive role in bridging the trust gap with your boss.
The first step is understanding why mistrustful behaviors are happening. They’re not always about you. Neediness, endlessly questioning and demanding boss traits, for example, may be borne out of insecurities about their own stature. They may stem from extra anxiety about how specific projects reflect on their own (possibly tenuous) position.
If managers have reason to feel that work is sub-par, of course, they will pay greater attention and will want to help. But this discussion is about those situations where the help becomes “unhelpful.”
Here are the most common negative trust behaviors among managers – and what you can do about them:
• Neediness: A needy boss may visit you often and appear to hover. You may see a parallel to a toddler who needs your exclusive attention and praise – no matter how busy you are trying to do your work. The conversation may default to your work when your manager really is looking for interaction.
Action: Show that you are responsible and dedicated. Then set boundaries and clear limits while at the same time encouraging your boss’s independence by praise. You may also encourage involvement and engagement of other peers to take some of the pressure off.
• Endless questioning: Just as a small child constantly asking “Why?” can push your patience to the limit, so too can your boss’s endless questioning. Constant questions can make you think your supervisor is documenting your every move and doesn’t trust you to handle even the smallest task.
Action: Keep your boss “over-informed” via e-mails, regular updates or briefings, and at least once-a-week meetings. Make a preemptive strike by anticipating questions and having answers ready. Keep your sense of humor toned-up – a light-hearted comment can often disarm rapid-fire questioning.
• Demanding: A demanding boss is like a child who shouts “I want it now!” and won’t let you out of her sight until she gets what she wants. You on the other hand, feel she needs to put more trust in your abilities to deliver the goods.
Action: Set expectations. Give the boss a good idea of when you’ll have the project completed. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, or some unforeseen hitch has delayed your final report, let your boss know immediately and have a back up plan. Reinforce your boss’s good behavior by thanking him on his helpfulness, support and clarity of purpose.
Trust in Your Abilities
Realize that in these uncertain economic times, you, management and your entire organization are under extra pressure to perform. Have faith in your own abilities to close the trust gap. You can pave the way for a “safe for success” environment by over communicating, creating preemptive opportunities to reassure, and demonstrating consistent reliability.