The Smart Way To Influence Your Boss
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Source: Happy Manager.
Is it really possible to manage your boss?
Whether or not you agree with trying to manage your boss, it’s still important to understand how he or she works. And from there, perhaps you’ll be one step close to being a more effective manager yourself.
What do you do when working with your boss is hard work? Well, before you do anything, think about our tips to help you manage your boss.
1 – First Try to Understand Your Boss
In the classic Harvard Business Review article: “Managing Your Boss”, John Kotter and John Gabarro suggest several ways to achieve this.
They state that you need to ensure you understand your boss, and her working context, by understanding her:
Goals and objectives;
Pressures and issues;
Strengths, weaknesses and blind spots;
Then, you need to do the same for yourself.
Trying to manage your boss makes sense because it makes your job easier.
2 – Manage Your Boss: Don’t Try To be a Reformer!
Accept that your boss is human, with strengths and limitations just like yourself. As we’ve discussed in other articles, it’s a far more productive approach to build on strengths, than trying to remedy limitations. If that’s good advice for managing your own staff, it’s equally good advice when trying to manage your boss.
However, it’s difficult trying to change personal preferences, habits, styles, and agendas. Difficult and not necessarily time well spent. The important thing is coming to understand what makes your boss tick, and developing an effective working relationship.
Far better to work on the basis of that relationship, and the way in which it’s conducted, than to try to change your boss. Ensure you meet regularly with your boss and try to develop a professional relationship based on mutual trust and respect.
We all feel good when we get better at what we’re already good at!
3– To Manage Your Boss – Find Out What Works
Before you get the wrong impression, this is not an article about “crawling” to the boss. You need to start out with what you consider to be the right things to do. Then find ways to communicate these to your boss, and to get them accepted. Don’t forget we are all different, so it’s important to understand which method of communication and discussion is most appropriate for each particular boss.
In “The Effective Executive”, Drucker suggests that some people are “listeners” and others are “readers”. Some prefer to talk to understand, others must first read before discussing. If your boss is a listener, brief her in person and then follow up with a memo. If she is a reader, cover important points of your proposal in a memo or report, then discuss them.
4 -To Manage Your Boss – Build Your Relationship
How you go about building your relationship does of course depend on many factors. We’ve already discussed the need for good, regular, open communication. This should ideally help build trust, respect and understanding. The ease with which you can support them will naturally vary. Your ability to influence your boss will depend on how well you’ve understood the four factors discussed earlier: goals, pressure, strength and weaknesses, and preferred style.
Our forthcoming article “managing by friendship” suggests a counter-culture approach to managing. It may be that many of us would not count our boss as our friends. In fact in our articles: What Makes a Happy Company and The Value Of A Good Manager? People Leave Managers Not Companies we see that survey evidence points towards many of us finding our boss to be the least person we’d want to spend time with!
In this case you may prefer to manage your boss by spending as little time as possible with him!
5– How to Avoid Being Overloaded or Having Your Time Wasted!
Firstly your boss will need your time and that is legitimate. What isn’t legitimate is an over loading, or wasting of your time. There are still ways that you can influence your boss time management. So what things can you do, and what do you need to look out for?
Tell your boss when you are reaching saturation point.
Make your boss aware of the consequences if she tries to overload you: “yes I could get that done by then, but that would delay this…”
Don’t say yes to everything your boss asks you to do, negotiate!
Ask your boss to prioritize when she gives you a list of tasks.
When asked to do something: find out details and, if possible, say you’ll get back to her, or take a look at it. Then:
Work out what the job involves;
Find out who else could be involved;
Go back with an answer “ here’s what I can do”.
Remember: When Your Boss is More Effective, So Are You!
The number one lesson here is this:
Work gets far easier for you and your colleagues when you’re able to manage your boss. The result can also be a more effective boss.
This article will probably not solve every boss management issue you have. Each situation is different and some suggestions will work, while others may not.
The important thing is to realize the importance of understanding your situation, and of finding ways to manage it.
Below you’ll find some of our related products which you may find helpful.
But perhaps one way to manage your boss is to manage your own performance