2013 will be a good year. It will be a good year because you will make it a good year. Hopefully you have already accomplished at least 1/12 of your goals and have a good plan for this month. Be sure to share your goals with your coach and with your Mastermind Team. This month I would like to share some thoughts on Managing Your Boss. If you do not have a boss, use significant other or spouse and I think these thoughts will have meaning.
A Checklist for Managing Your Boss
There will always be those who view the concept of managing
upward as flattery and manipulation. Others hold the common
belief that if bosses are wise, they donít need to be managed
and such efforts will be viewed solely as attempts to play
But managing upward is not about ambition, promotions or raises.
Itís about the job and how to be effective at getting things
Hereís a review of key points from a classic Harvard Business
Review article originally published in 1990, and it remains
pertinent today. ďManaging Your BossĒ was written by Professors
Emeriti John J. Gabarro, PhD, and John P. Kotter, PhD.
Two people can be temperamentally incapable of working together.
Personality conflicts occur all the time. But when they happen
between bosses and managers, differing personalities are only
a small part of the true problem.
People usually have unrealistic assumptions and expectations
about the nature of boss-subordinate relationships. They fail
to recognize that itís one of mutual dependency between two
fallible human beings, so they avoid managing the relationship
altogether or do so ineffectively.
Some managers behave as though their bosses are not dependent
on them. They donít see how much the boss needs their help
to do his job efficiently; how their actions can severely
hurt him; and how they truly need to be cooperative, dependable
Other managers see themselves as completely independent of
their bosses. They gloss over how much information they need
from the boss to perform their jobs well. In truth, a boss
can play a critical role in linking managers to the rest of
the organization, making sure priorities are consistent.
Other managers assume the boss is a clairvoyant who will magically
know which information or help is needed and magically provide
it. This is dangerously unrealistic.
Managers must recognize that mutual dependence between two
fallible humans requires two components:
Understanding Your Boss
- Having a good understanding of the other person and
yourself, especially regarding strengths, weaknesses,
work styles and needs
- Using this information to develop and manage a healthy
working relationshipóone that is compatible with both
individualsí work styles and assets, is characterized
by mutual expectations and meets the other personís
most critical needs
Managing your boss requires you to understand him and his
workplace context, as well as your own situation. Some managers
arent thorough enough in this regard.
At a minimum, you need to appreciate your bosss goals,
pressures, strengths and weaknesses:
Coming up with good answers is far less important than taking
the time to ask yourself hard questions and honestly examine
your strengths and weaknesses.
Without this information, a manager is flying blind and problems
- What are your bossís organizational and personal objectives?
- What are his/her pressures, especially from his/her
- What are your bossís strengths and advantages?
- What are his/her weaknesses and blind spots?
- How does your boss like to get information: memos,
emails, meetings, text or calls?
- How does your boss handle conflict?
Youíre not going to change your (or your bossís) basic personality,
but you can learn which traits, habits or behaviors impede
or facilitate working together.
A manager is typically more dependent on the boss than vice
versa. This dependence inevitably leads to a degree of frustration
and anger when oneís actions or options are constrained by
the bossís decisions. The way in which a manager handles these
frustrations largely depends on predispositions toward those
who hold authority positions.
The Counter Dependent Manager
Some peopleís instinctive reaction is to resent the bossís
authority and rebel against his or her decisions. A manager
may even escalate a conflict to inappropriate levels.
Psychologists call this pattern of reaction to authority ďcounter
dependentĒ behavior. The counter dependent manager sees the
boss as the institutional enemy ó a hindrance to progress
and an obstacle to be circumvented or, at best, tolerated.
Reactions to being constrained are strong and sometimes impulsive.
These managers strongly defend their sense of independence
and self-sufficiency, making it difficult to accept orders,
especially from a boss who tends to be directive or authoritarian.
The Compliant Manager
At the other extreme are managers who ignore
their anger and behave in a compliant fashion when the boss
makes what they know to be a poor decision. These managers
will agree and conform, even when a disagreement may be welcomed.
Often, a boss wants push-back and would easily change a decision
if given more information.
The Passive-Aggressive Manager
A third style involves the passive-aggressive manager, who
may appear to be compliant and cooperative, but holds counter
dependent beliefs of anger and rebelliousness. This manager
can be even more dangerous and disruptive because the reaction
is covert. Instead of arguing and expressing resentment, he
or she will sabotage in subtle ways.
Reactions to Authority
Bosses donít have unlimited time, encyclopedic knowledge or
extrasensory perception, nor are they evil enemies. All bosses
have their own pressures and concerns that are sometimes at
odds with a managerís wishes ó and often for good reason.
If you believe, on the one hand, that you have some tendencies
toward counter dependence, you can understand and even predict
what your reactions and overreactions are likely to be.
If, on the other hand, you believe you have some tendencies
toward overdependence, you may question the extent to which
your over compliance or inability to confront real differences
may be rendering both you and your boss less effective.
Developing and Managing the Relationship
Ultimately, the burden falls upon the manager to learn the
bossís expectations. Working for someone who tends to be vague
when expressing expectations can be difficult, but savvy managers
always find a way to overcome barriers.
No doubt, some managers will react to this article with disdain,
arguing their jobs are complicated enough and they shouldnít
have to invest time and energy in managing upward. They fail
to realize how managing the boss can actually simplify their
jobs by eliminating the potential for severe problems.
2013 will be a good year if you decide it will be good year. What do you need to do to make 2013 the best year ever? Use your Coach and your Mastermind Team to make it happen. If you do not have a Coach or Mastermind Team give me a call or drop me an e-mail and I will help you get the support you need.
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For the last twenty-two
years Jerry Pinney has been president of his own consulting firm.
Currently he focuses his efforts on providing executive and personal
coaching to persons who are interested in improving their quality
of life and consulting to small and mid-sized companies and nonprofits.
He is a facilitator for peer advisory groups with The Alternative
Board and is a Certified One Page Planning Consultant. Jerry has
over three decades of experience in the food industry, and possesses
a unique perspective of customer service, marketing and strategic
planning. In addition to overall general management qualifications,
Jerry has proven expertise in operational planning and business
development. His food industry career started at Jewel Food Stores
followed by a long career with IGA, with their retailers, wholesalers
and ten years as Vice President of Marketing. In addition Jerry
has served as Vice President of Membership for the National Grocers
Association, Sr. Vice President of Procurement for Shurfine International
and Executive Manager of The Zenon Hansen Foundation.
Jerry has also served on a number of nonprofit
boards including: President of the Volunteer Center of Northwest
Suburban Chicago. He is currently a Project Manager for the Executive
Service Corps of Chicago. Jerrys ESC assignments have included
coaching for several Executive Directors, and consulting on various
Board Development projects and on a number of strategic planning
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