I have read many blog posts about what leadership is and how to manage staff, however, it seems that the onus is nearly always on the manager and not so much on the employee. It’s time to turn the tables and talk about managing your manager or bossing your boss, ideally without them even knowing it! If you are thinking of resigning because of your bad manager or have just joined a new organisation and are keen to ensure all goes well, here are a few tips:
Put simply, you need to understand the motivations and drivers of your manager. If you understand what exactly they are trying to achieve, you can work with them to solve their problems. Your actions should be a part of their solutions, not create a problem.
Take some time to work out exactly how your manager likes to work. Many times, this is described as the culture of a team or the style of your manager. As the new person in the team or someone trying to adapt, its best to "swallow your pride" and not attempt to change the culture or style but instead learn to work within expectations. That means understanding them, for example when it comes to communication. Is email better than the phone? Is it expected to update everyone or your manager frequently? Essentially you need to mirror the style and culture of the team and your manager.
Value your manager’s time. Everyone is under pressure, and time is the most expensive of commodities. Schedule a regular meeting and hold him or her to it. Hold any questions for that meeting that are not urgent and work through the issues then. You will note how quickly things can be worked through by holding back a list, and your boss will respect your organisational skills and your valuing his or her time.
Break down the barriers to understand your boss’ moods. Don’t mistake building a relationship with becoming friends. Sharing of stories, hobbies and events builds bonds. Remember also that you will sometimes disagree and respond emotionally. Whatever you do, don’t hold a grudge or let this fester. Move on. It’s better for you and your boss, and if you have invested in getting to know them, letting them know how you feel without an emotional reaction can help build these bonds.
Last but not least, you should "steal ideas with pride." Learn from your manager. As a manager with over fifteen years experience, one of the best feelings is when you can see people who have worked with you, not for you, develop and progress to the position of manager and with that are successful in their own right. So, go forth and "manage up!" You and your boss will be the better for it.