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Managing your boss

Posted by Meg Bear on January 26, 2009


mr_burnsHere at TalentedApps we have had a few discussions about bosses (both good and bad) but we after reading the WSJ article on How to manage your boss I thought it might be a good idea to spend a little more time on this topic.

First I can’t talk about this topic without a mention of our  legendary family story, where an unnamed person [I’m married to], once told his friend that he had to go “manage his boss“.   Of course, the meeting he was anticipating, informed him of massive layoffs in his industry (manufacturing) of which he was participating (doh!).  Being a supportive family unit, we are still bringing up this story several decades later.

Second I was struck by this  in the article

…According to the theory, we tend to assume that other people’s faults stem from internal, fundamental flaws. But we attribute our own faults to temporary environmental factors. For instance, when our boss manages poorly, we believe that he does it because he intends to and is inherently a bad leader. When we manage poorly, we’re simply making a mistake because of the pressure we’re under.

Essentially, most of us are quick to believe the worst in our boss and expect others to cut us some slack when we are at our worst.   I’ll give you a minute to take that one in as it relates to your own situation with your boss.  Do you empathize with his/her job?

Third I was thrilled to see Wally Bock suggest the following additional point

Your job is to help your boss succeed. If you can’t do that, it’s time to find someplace else to work. Without that commitment, all techniques become manipulation.

What an outstanding point.  How many of us define our role as helping our boss succeed?  Do you focus your energy to help make him (or her) look good?  Do you put your energy on aligning around a positive relationship built on a common goal?  I would submit, that if you are not, it’s not just your boss missing out.  Worth thinking about. 

To that end, I checked my quarterly goals to see if I’ve addressed this issue and here is what I found.

 Support my boss as best I can, making sure my teams don’t spend too much time on any wall of shame.

 Yup, looks like I’ve got skin in the game (in my own underachieving way).  What about you?

5 Responses to “Managing your boss”

  1. Louise Barnfield said

    Well said, Meg…and of course your specific goal of ensuring none of us appear on any wall of shame (or at least don’t poke up too often above the parapet!) is a huge benefit to the team as well; it’s a two-way street.
    I shall give this due consideration, as I’m sure there’s always more one can do but, having been a manager in a past life and reverted to individual contributor, I can certainly empathize with my boss. I’m very appreciative of all the (um, shall we say) ‘stuff’ he (and others further up the chain) deals with on my behalf, so that I don’t have to! That’s a benefit of having been on both sides of the fence.
    I could draw an analogy with car drivers and cyclists: every driver should be forced to ride a bike, in order to see life from the other side of the wheel, and gain at least a modicum of awareness and consideration for other road users!

  2. Ken Klaus said

    Meg, what an e-x-c-e-l-l-e-n-t post! =) There’s no better teacher than experience and when we lack experience we generally lack empathy, patience and compassion as well – which means if we haven’t actually been a manager, it can be really tough to understand or appreciate how it feels to be in that role. So as a general rule it’s probably better to assume your manager is acting in your best interest, rather than intentionally trying to make you miserable. Unless of course he’s a megalomaniacal centenarian running his own nuclear power plan, in which case he probably is evil. =)

  3. […] Managing your boss […]

  4. […] time to time, you should give your manager the ultimate gift as well. As Meg noted in her Managing Your Boss blog, part of your job is to help your boss succeed. Just like your manager lets you know how you […]

  5. […] are probably more generous about intention for yourself than you are for […]

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