The Most Difficult Lesson for Fast-Trackers

There’s one very important career secret most people won’t tell you. You need to learn more about working well with others than learning your next technical job skill to fast-track up the corporate ladder.

One of the hardest lessons to learn in your career is how to work well with a boss who does not possess good managerial skills. And, yes, it’s up to you, as the fast-tracker, to learn how to communicate with them, not the other way around!

Communication success starts on the inside

Many employees and managers don’t take the time to learn new people skills. Many simply use the ostrich approach, stick their head in the sand when working with a boss (or co-worker) they don’t like or respect, and hope it will get better. This rarely works.

Some may attempt to emulate others’ communication styles whom they believe are successful. They usually fail.  Why? Copying another person’s communication style instead of developing their own won’t work for them. For example, a highly assertive person who learns diplomacy can make a positive difference when dealing with a know-it-all boss.  However, someone who avoids conflict with the same know-it-all boss needs to learn how to assert him- or herself by taking a stand on an issue and be heard.

Developing a communication style that leverages your strengths and fills in the gaps to elicit the best from others is required to move up the corporate ladder. Then, you can turn a perceived “bad” boss into an advocate to support your upward aspirations.

Labelling others does not make a difference

Recently I was talking with a fast-track employee. She loved her job, but, was bored. She blamed her last two managers and labelled them as “bad bosses” with poor communication styles. She felt this perception justified her lack of advancement.  And added, “Everyone else thinks they are bad too.”

So what was missing?

As a result of our conversation, she was shocked to learn she needed to take the initiative to come up with new ideas and systems that would support the company. By working with and through her boss (and co-workers), she could make them happen and enjoy her job again.

Take responsibility for your perceptions of others

One of my clients had very similar circumstances; however, he ended up with a very different result. Instead of complaining and doing nothing, he hired me as his coach! After taking a qualified assessment to understand how his communication style compared with others, he discovered his default style was to avoid conflict. His first assignment was to get on the same page with his “bad boss.” This required having a face-to-face conversation with his boss, someone he despised! He made the comment, “If I had known you were going to have me talk to my boss one-on-one, I never would have hired you!”

My response?  “Good thing you hired me. Remember, you are responsible for your perceptions of others – perceptions create your reality of who they are. Your ability to work with and through this person will help you (and your employees) get better results.  You can now have the upward mobility you’ve been craving!”

So what happened?

After doing some role-playing, he setup the conversation and amazed himself at the outcome. The added bonus was, he received positive recognition and was slated for a huge promotion by the CEO!

The truth is you will always work with and for others that you don’t like and won’t do it your way. Labelling them “bad bosses” only hinders your advancement for the next job, promotion or pay increase.

Taking responsibility to discover and improve on your communication skills will help you learn how to work with anyone, anywhere, any time. And the added bonus, these skills will make your job more fun, satisfying and rewarding.

PS: Are you a bad boss? Take this quiz and find out!

©Jeannette Seibly, 2015

Jeannette Seibly has been a business advisor and facilitator for over 23 years; she guides the creation of new solutions for business challenges and is the author of over 300 articles and 4 published books designed to help business leaders lead successfully.  Check out her website: or contact Jeannette at

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