Topic of the Week Managing Up
- Learn why.
- Manage yourself.
For many of us today boss has become a four-letter word. In fact, a study found that 50% of workers leave their jobs because of the boss. Interestingly, this study also found that only 20% of us talk to the boss about it before we depart. Which reminds me of when Massachusetts police got a call about teenagers tossing eggs at a house. They were shocked when they tracked down the suspects, off-duty members of the Newton police department. The offenders said that the egging was "a prank, a joke among friends." Turns out these rogue officers were egging their bosses house.
Why talk to your boss when you can egg his home after work? There must be a better way to deal with a difficult boss, and there is. But first another statistic, a survey of bosses by Zengler discovered that of the 16 key competencies of a leader, motivating and inspiring employees ranked dead last. See the problem here? If your boss isn't going to provide the necessary leadership, maybe you need to take control of the relationship. Here are four strategies to do just that.
Learn why. Most of us focus on "what" our boss does, rather than "why." It's important to dig deeper to learn the history, politics and other factors that led the boss to make certain decisions. Who knows, with a little digging you might see the boss's actions in a totally different light.
Manage yourself. Yes, I know this is about managing your boss, but your actions play a key role here too. The important thing to remember, they're the boss. It's your job to adjust to them not the other way around. But there is an easy path to learning how to manage yourself, identify and study the most effective people in your group. Chances are good that they've figured out what works and following their lead can often get you to where you want to be.
Complement. Please note, that is complement, not compliment. I'm not talking about sucking up. No, this is all about filling in the weak spots of your leader. If they are chronically disorganized, can you bring some structure to your team. Or if they are a detail person, can you focus on breakthrough ideas? Identify what your boss doesn't do well and see if you can fill in a few of his or her gaps.
Upgrade. Bosses really matter. If yours leaves a lot to be desired, then maybe it's time to go boss shopping both inside and outside of your company. Let's face it, life is to short to work for someone who is annoying.
Believe it or not, Harvard Business Review had an article on managing your manager that they published 25 years ago. In says that if your relationship with the boss is bad, it's your responsibility to fix it. Yes, managing up should be part of everyone's job. So put the eggs away and start learning how to manage up effectively.
Bob Rosner is a best-selling author and award-winning journalist. For free job and work advice, check out the award-winning workplace911.com. Check the revised edition of his Wall Street Journal best seller, "The Boss's Survival Guide." If you have a question for Bob, contact him firstname.lastname@example.org.