How To Manage Your Boss

You Can Influence What Your Boss Thinks Of You And Your Performance.

By Steve Schumacher

We all have bosses.

No matter if you are a first-line supervisor or a CEO, you still report to someone that monitors and evaluates your potential and your performance.

I have worked for various people over the years, and they all had different styles and expectations of me. I also had different expectations of them, as my supervisor.

One of my early supervisors was very much a micro-manager. She wanted to know everything I was doing all the time. She always had an idea for me on how to do my job better.

I initially balked at her style, because I felt confident that I could, and would, do the right thing and what I perceived as meddling was troubling to me. When it became clear that she was not going to change, I learned to adapt to her style. It lowered my stress and met her needs as my boss.

Another supervisor of mine had a completely different style. He was much more hands-off and allowed me to do whatever I felt necessary to get the job done. He was always there for guidance but had confidence in my abilities; shown by leaving me alone most of the time.

His style was a good match with my needs in a boss. He perceived himself as more a mentor and coach, as opposed to an overseer. I had to adapt to that style initially, because I had just spent a couple years reporting to the micro-manager. I was able to adapt successfully and made it a real win-win situation for both of us. Regardless of your personal work style, and the style of your boss, there are certain things you can do to ensure that you are successful and your boss is happy with you and your performance.

Make sure you are clear on expectations.
Meet with your boss and have a discussion about what his/her expectations are of you and your performance. This discussion should include annual objectives you are expected to meet. Identify together the key metrics of your performance. They should include the quantity, quality and timeliness of your work.

Teamwork is crucial in today’s work environment, so make sure you understand how your boss expects you to behave with the rest of the team. Most companies have values statements that are designed to help you understand how you go about your day-to-day business. Be clear on how your boss perceives the company values and how to act on them.

Set up regular performance feedback discussions.
Do not wait until your annual performance review to see how you are doing. Be proactive. Set up meetings with your boss to get his/her feedback throughout the year. That way you can do some mid-course correcting, if necessary.

Take the time to assess how you are doing on your own, then share it with your boss. This shows that you are prepared and lessens the burden on your boss to have to analyze everything you are doing on their own.

Adjust your style to meet the style of your boss.
This step is vital. We all have differing styles in the workplace. Some bosses like constant updates; others want to hear from you only when there is an issue. Some bosses like to know about your personal life; others are all business.

Take the time to find out what your supervisor’s hot buttons are. Be assertive, and tell your boss that you want to do whatever it takes to meet their needs. Give them a lot of detail, or just summaries, depending on their individual style. The more you work to match their style, the more they will do the same with you.

Never speak ill of your supervisor.
Your mother’s advice, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all,” applies here. You should make every effort to speak highly of your boss among co-workers. We all know how fast the grapevine works. If you find others gossiping about your boss, excuse yourself and do not engage in it. Support your boss every chance you get. He/she will appreciate that support and the positive attitude you bring.

Be straight with your feedback.
The majority of bosses I have met appreciate it when an employee is honest and open with them. Too many employees only tell the boss what they think they want to hear, so it is refreshing when an employee gives the boss clear and timely feedback.

None of us get enough feedback and bosses are no different. Absolutely do it, but do it in a tactful manner. None of us is perfect and we all make mistakes. A wise supervisor will appreciate your feedback and thank you for it.

Managing your boss well takes a concerted effort on your part. It is a great investment of your time and effort to make sure you are clear on their expectations, seek on-going feedback and support your boss at every turn. Your career will benefit from making the effort. 

Steve Schumacher is a management consultant, trainer and public speaker with more than 25 years of experience in numerous industries throughout North America, including aggregates operations. He can be reached at [email protected]

Everyone is responsible for their own behavior. We live in a culture where responsibility and accountability are minimized, with individuals hiding behind the label of “victim” as an excuse for their actions. There is right and wrong, black and white, but many would prefer to operate in shades of gray. As long as they do not cross the line, they feel that they are fine. As long as no one catches them, their behavior is acceptable.

Individuals operating in shades of gray feel ethics are not as important as the legality of their actions and think the ends justify the means. After all it is a results-driven environment and it is the results that matter.

While certain actions might be legal, they may also be unethical and reflect poorly on an organization as well as the individuals responsible for them. If these actions are tolerated and allowed, an organizational culture is created that undermines the customer’s confidence in the company, as well as its products and services and ultimately destroys its reputation in the marketplace.
– Timothy F. Bednarz, Ph.D.

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