THE art of management involves managing relationships upward as well as downward in your organisation. To be able to progress in your career path, achieve results and to make a name for yourself, you will need to learn how to manage the relationship you have with your superiors.
When I first started work, I reported to several difficult bosses. A coach or a mentor to give me some advice would have made my task easier. So, here are some suggestions on how to manage your boss.
Take a long-term view
Do not expect to manage the working relationship with your boss overnight. All good things take time to develop. When you get to know your boss better and are familiar with his preferences and quirks, you will be in a better position to form an effective management strategy.
Study your boss
Ask people who know about his preferences. Is your boss a task-master? Is he expressive, amiable or analytical?
Remember the principle that people like people who are like themselves. When you communicate with your boss, do so in a way that says you understand him and how he likes things to be done.
Pick the right time
Learn to read your boss’s mood. A good source of information is the boss’s secretary or a good ally.
Some bosses like to start off their day in a whirlwind of meetings and activities, so mornings may not be a good time to ask them to deliberate on a decision. Approach them after lunch, after they have been through the tough issues in the morning.
Others are in a good frame of mind at the start of the day, before they have had to deal with complicated matters. Get in your request early.
Keep your boss informed
Update him on the progress you are making on your projects, the results achieved, the challenges or problems you are facing and what your recommendations are.
Learn the technique of breaking bad news in small doses. If something goes wrong, explain the what, why and how and let your boss know what you are going to do to fix it. Ask his opinion if your boss is the controlling type.
Your boss is different from you, so conflict is to be expected. Seek agreement on the easy issues, and then work collaboratively on the larger problems. Do not be aggressive don’t make your boss lose face.
Be open, loyal and frank
Help your boss look good, but you don’t have to be subservient. Let your honesty surface and be a man or woman of your word.
Admit your mistakes and ensure they do not happen again. Be reliable and do what you say you will do. Walk your talk.
Deliver on your promises
When the boss asks you to do something, do it promptly and thoroughly. With every problem encountered, provide solutions or alternatives for consideration.
Be ready with as many answers you can think of. Bosses like people with initiative and a “can do” attitude.
Accept challenges and don’t be afraid to put forward your ideas. If you sense that your boss is showing resistance, don’t keep on pushing. Retreat for the moment and approach the subject again on another day.
Act with confidence, even though you feel less than competent when something goes wrong.
Take responsibility, don’t blame other people and have a solution ready. You still might get a telling off, but it is likely that your boss will have fresh respect for you.
At the end of the day, if you establish a mutually respectful working relationship with your boss, your climb up the corporate ladder will be so much smoother.