Managing Your Boss

Managing Your Boss

Simply put, the manager-boss relationship is a symbiotic system where the boss provides, vision, access, and resources, and the manager synthesizes these to get the job done. When it works well both parties feel supported and are capable of a level of sustained productivity that benefits the company’s bottom line. When it works well the reputation of both parties is enhanced among colleagues, subordinates, and higher ups. When it doesn’t work well, not surprisingly, it is up to the manager to fix it.

You might wonder why, given your heavy load of responsibilities, accomplishing your tasks in excellent fashion is not sufficient for career success. Perhaps knowing that the business landscape is peppered with the carcasses of talented managers who failed to engage their bosses will be enough to inspire you to attend to this very important career rudiment.

The most essential component in managing your boss is developing a relationship of honesty, reliability, and healthy interdependence.  At first glance this may seem elementary and intuitive. But all relationships are abstract and ever-changing, so it is important that you make a deliberate effort to observe and verify course corrections in your employer’s goals as well as shifts in your organization’s priorities that affect his/her career landscape and stress level. Taking the time to truly know your boss’ business and personal ambitions, strengths and needs, and what keeps him/her up at night can only benefit you and the work you do for the organization. Here are seven tips to get you started:

1. Periodically review current priorities with your boss to ensure that you stay aligned.

2. Discuss organizational changes with your boss to understand their impact on processes, timelines, or strategies in your area of responsibility.

3. Notice any personal touches in your boss’ office (photos or mementos) or clues in the conversation that will give you a more complete understanding of his/her values.

4. Find out how your boss likes to communicate (for example, intermittent verbal reports or weekly written reports) and adapt your communication style accordingly.

5. Volunteer to help your boss with a sticky problem.

6. Be your boss’ biggest supporter. Provide tactical insight, key information, or a well-timed heads up. Promote his/her brand among colleagues and superiors.

7. Keep your boss’ secrets!

Forming a closer relationship with your boss will result in a more productive partnership that produces wins for everyone involved. Your upward mobility is closely linked to your boss’ success, so the investment of time and attention to partnership-building will not only benefit your boss and the company, but will bring about pleasant outcomes for your own career.

Coaching Question:

Where can I find opportunities to improve my working relationship with my boss? 


Coaching Activity:

Select at least three items from the numbered list above and start to do them right away.


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