How to Manage
No matter where
you work, you report to someone – maybe even to two or three bosses.
And whether you think your boss is brilliant or a bore, the fact is
that you have to manage the relationship with your boss if you want
to advance your career.
Realize that you
are more dependent on your boss than your boss is on you, because
your boss holds the key to your short-term future. Not only can your
boss release you at any time, especially in today’s economy, but
your boss can also unconsciously ostracize you by not keeping you in
the communication loop and by giving all the desirable projects to
others. When your boss senses that communication between the two of
you is not going well and situations have not been resolved, he or
she will simply go work with your co-workers rather than you.
you don’t manage the relationship with your boss, you won’t last
long in your particular position – either you’ll get fired or you’ll
quit. Granted, if you work for a large company, you might be able to
transfer to a different boss. But even then if you don’t know how to
manage your boss you could end up repeating the same scenario as you
did with your former boss.
So before you
let a little mismanagement on your part disrupt your career, take
some time to learn the keys of “boss management.” The following
suggestions will get you started on the right path and contribute to
a more harmonious work day.
Find out from
your boss what “good” looks like and all who are involved in
report to one person or four different bosses, you need to make sure
you’re meeting everyone’s expectations. After all, what seems good
to you may only be mediocre to your boss. Therefore, find out what
“good” looks like to each boss you report to. You could simply ask,
“What does ‘good’ look like on this project?” Or, “If this went
exactly like you wanted it to go and it turned out perfect, what
would have to happen between now and that time?” As an added
benefit, you might even get an idea of the scope of how big that
project really is. Sometimes bosses don’t tell you much and you have
to pull it out of them. If you do this simple step upfront and find
out what the expectations are on the project and the timelines, you
save a lot of time in the end.
Ask your boss
what kind of follow up he/she wants and what your boss has to
have for his/her comfort level:
bosses expect people to be mind readers, simply because they’re busy
and can’t always go over all the details of a project. As such, your
boss might forget to tell you such things as a firm deadline or a
required step. And since everyone operates from their own set of
realities, the possibility of miscommunication is high. That’s why
you need to take the initiative to set expectations for every
project your boss assigns you. You need to find out: “What is the
deadline? What are my resources? What checkpoints or milestones do
we want to establish, if any? What step or contact person is
absolutely critical to this project?” Just as you set expectations
when dealing with clients and co-workers, you need to manage the
relationship and set expectations with your boss every time.
boss’s style and adjust to that style:
says there are two key leadership styles: readers and listeners.
Which is your boss? The readers want data before you talk
with them. The listeners want to talk before they read. For example,
a CEO has a controller who is good with the numbers. He gives his
boss elaborate and spectacular reports…but that’s not what she
wants. Every time he gives her a report, she pushes the report aside
and starts talking with him. She’s not a reader; she’s a listener.
All she wants to know is the bottom line – “Are we in trouble or
not?” So this controller is spending precious time producing
materials his boss doesn’t want. Conversely, if your boss is a
reader, you’re not going to get a good decision from that person in
a quick hallway conversation. Readers can’t make fast decisions on
complex issues without data. So unless it’s an easy question, they
need to think things over and analyze them. And while there are many
personality types in the workplace, if you can make this one
distinction between the readers and the listeners, you’ll go far
with managing your boss.
Muster up the
courage to tell your boss when you feel you haven’t been fully
has to go both ways for success. If your boss upsets you or
misunderstands you, you have to speak up – not from the head, but
from the heart. One way to do that is with an “I” message. For
example, “I was really upset and hurt by what you said. I
interpreted it as __________. Did you mean it that way?” Most people
want to be heard, yet most don’t get heard by their boss. Therefore,
it’s your responsibility to say when you’re not feeling heard. If
you’re leery of speaking up to your boss, first try this approach on
your family members. Practice it in a safe environment before trying
it on your boss.
Become aware of
other managers’ styles, especially when they have a stake in the
outcome of your project:
Keeping up with
the expectations and styles of multiple bosses can be a fine
balancing act. The only way to wade through it all is if you can
keep in mind the one thing that matters most to each of the
stakeholders you have to please. It’s too overwhelming to have five
stakeholders and think through five requirements for each. So either
ask each person what is most important to him/her, or figure out
what you have observed in each person’s behavior that you can attend
The good news is that no matter how well or poorly you have managed
your boss’s relationship in the past, you can re-craft your
relationship on every new project. Ideally, you want to create a
relationship where talking from the heart is the norm, as then
confrontation on serious issues won’t be difficult. In the end, it’s
really about understanding your boss. When you teach your boss how
to work with you and hone great communication skills with him or
her, your work life will be happier and much more productive.
Read other articles and learn more about
[This article is available at no-cost, on a non-exclusive basis.
Contact PR/PR at 407-299-6128 for details and