Talk of managing one's boss sounds like controlling or directing the efforts of someone who is supposed to be managing us. But, we manage ourselves, our time, finances and careers, so managing can be framed as a facilitative, supportive or guiding activity. We can manage our bosses in much the same way we manage our customers: by getting close enough to them to understand their needs and by figuring out how we can help them.
Managing one's boss can be seen as forming a strategic partnership where each side benefits. You may not use this terminology with your boss but it is important to see it as a two-way street, to figure out what is in it for both of you. We tend to avoid our bosses because we see them as critical overseers rather than as customers. The first step is to reframe how you see your boss. The second step is to seize every opportunity you can to ask your boss questions about his or her needs. Not directly but by asking about your boss's pet projects, what obstacles they are facing, how they are going and what new ideas he or she is developing.
Managing Your Boss and Teamwork
- Most organizations reward individual success/accountability, making real teamwork extremely difficult.
- Avoid 'groupthink' by rewarding openness - thank people for bad news and for disagreeing with you. Frowning, scowling and defending your own views will turn teamwork into conformity.
- Excessive use of authority, however subtle, creates 'yes men' (women).
- This is not to say that you need to accept endless discussion.
- It is HOW you resolve disputes not whether you do.
- Increasing complexity = more specialists, = more pooling of ideas = more teamwork.
- The days are long gone when one person can call all the shots.
- Genuine teamwork reduces isolation and makes change less frightening.
- Effective teams use a process to review regularly how they are doing.
- Team members contribute specialist knowledge, but they should be encouraged to be generalists in the way they behave in the team - at different times leading, enhancing harmony, generating new ideas.
- Good leaders understand how team members differ in terms of their personalities and hidden agenda.
See also: Relationships at Work for tips on relationship building skills