Summary: Managing Your Boss

1. When we manage our relationships with anyone, we pay attention to the needs, concerns, and preferences of them.

2. When a boss loses his composure, ask him if you and he can step into his office for a quick chat. You’ll say, “Boss, I can tell this project is important and I’m completely available to work on it today. I want to get the project completed fast and perfectly, so let’s strategize right now. Let’s walk through the variables and see what we want to do. I want to work on this project one time and get it right. Can we spend a few minutes brainstorming, before I begin?”
It’s your right and obligation to gently let the Boss or any manager know when they’re off the rails.

3. Your manager has their own fears, concerns and frustrations. Don’t look at your boss as just the person who evaluates your work or who gives out raises and promotions. Look at them as a full person, with a life outside of work, career aspirations, and the wish or hope to be the best manager they can be.

4. Try to take your manager’s point of view whenever possible. Great salesperson and customer service agents take their customers’ point of view. Great leaders take their team members’ point of view. Great team members take their co-workers’ and their manager’s point of view. If you want to manage your relationship with your boss you must understand what your boss cares about.

5. Figure out what is most important to your boss this year. What are his or her performance goals? The more you can support your boss in achieving their objectives, the better your relationship will be.

6. Acknowledge your manager when they help you, advise you, take care of an issue for you, remember something important you hoped they would remember, and generally support you in doing your job.

7. Do express your concerns, complaints, frustrations and rants — but in a positive fashion. Take whatever you’re unhappy about (e.g., staff meeting minutes almost never get distributed) and turn it into a suggestion (What if we used the first agenda slot at next week’s staff meeting to decide how we’re going to distribute minutes every week?)

8. Speak up if your manager is confused or misinformed about your role, goals, results or any other aspect of your work. Clearing up miscommunication with your boss is extremely important and will grow your muscles.

9. When your boss is a pain in the neck, don’t take it personally. Most managers get almost no leadership training and very little support. They don’t know how to manage their stress, and who can blame them? Don’t take abuse from anyone at work, but if your boss is short with you don’t label him or her an idiot or bully or label yourself a failure. Neither is true. You’re fine and your boss is fine, and work is a stressful place.

10. When your boss is in his calm mode, reinforce him like crazy. Tell him “This is the kind of amazing brainstorming we need to do before we have to build another one of those customer reports.”

11. Think about what you want over the long term, way beyond this job, and how this position will help you reach your long-term goals. You don’t have to become best friends with the Boss or become his favorite employee. You can rise up in altitude through this experience. You can take charge of your workplace relationships by looking at your role in them!

12. Finally, acknowledge yourself for owning your relationships — because not everybody does. Not everybody can get out of their hurt and fear enough to see how we can all reinforce one another.

13. Don’t start a conversation with your boss when you’re mad or upset. Wait until you calm down.

14. Don’t fall into a win/lose mentality and start counting the number of times your boss said “yes” to one of your requests versus the times they said “No.” It is easy to compare yourself to other employees or start to think “My manager doesn’t like me.” That’s a waste of your energy. Focus on your work, your team’s work and your mission.

15. Don’t go to your manager with a list of complaints. Convert your complaints into practical suggestions whenever you can.

16. Don’t ask your boss to adjudicate arguments with co-workers unless you and your co-worker agree there is no alternative.

17. Don’t be shy about asking for feedback or asking for advice on a situation you haven’t handled before.

18. Don’t forget to keep your manager informed of positive things you hear about the team, the company and your manager him- or herself. Nobody gets enough acknowledgment!

19. Don’t assume your boss knows important news you hear or read during the day. If you think the new information would be valuable to your manager, pass it on.

20. Don’t bash your manager to other employees, or vice versa.

21. Don’t ask your boss to solve tiny problems you could solve on your own.

22. Don’t assume that because your manager is different from you — with a different gender, age, nationality or life story – that you can’t be real with them. We can all bring more of ourselves to work and it would be good for all of us if we did!


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