Sunday, April 10, 2011

Managing your Boss

“For a manager to be perceived as a positive manager, they need a four to one positive to negative contact ratio” ~Ken Blanchard

In the 10+ years I have been writing this column, people have regularly sent me requests for topics they'd like me to cover. The No. 1 most requested topic is how to manage a boss.

It is a common complaint, and employees really only have two options: either they learn how to deal with a bad boss or they leave, which is not a palatable option for most.

If you are one of those with a bad boss, you must figure out a way to work with the person. Unfortunately, you cannot expect your boss to change. Dwelling on your boss' shortcomings is not productive and will only make you feel bad.

All bosses — even the good ones — make mistakes, and some do not have the best skills to make each employee feel valued. Even so, you still must make an effort to do the best job you can.

Try to understand what motivates your boss, his or her goals, and how he or she is being evaluated. If you know what your boss values, you can easily figure out what to do to help achieve those goals. Your boss will appreciate your efforts and value you as an employee that much more.

If, however, you just cannot figure out what your boss needs to be successful, you need to ask. Nothing will flatter your boss more than asking him or her what you can do to help the firm or department be more successful. If you do not receive an adequate answer, which might happen, ask your colleagues if they can help you in this process.

We know marketing is a vital element of a business. For employees, it plays an equally important role in their relationship with their bosses. Employees need to market themselves to their bosses by communicating with them on a regular basis; weekly is the best frequency.

Keeping an open line of communication with your boss is important to managing your workload. Often bosses do not really know what all is on their employees' plates. The more you can communicate with them about your work load, the less likely they are to overload you.

If you have a problem with your boss, go talk to him, but make sure you take a positive, productive approach. Whether it is true or not, telling your boss how wrong he is will seldom yield positive results. Focus on the specific issue without making it a personal attack. For example, if you are concerned about a specific policy, explain how the policy makes you feel and offer suggestions for how it might be improved. Most bosses value constructive input from staff.

While managing your boss is not easy, it is something that every employee has to do. The more you can align yourself with your boss' goals, the better your relationship will be. A critical piece of this is marketing yourself to your boss on a regular basis.

You can do this!

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