So, how can you manage your boss, someone who manages you and why should you? I was thinking about this the other day when I recalled looking at recliner lift chairs while visiting a furniture store. The chair was for my father. He was 88-years-old at the time and sometimes had trouble getting out of his recliner. I knew the lift recliner would be great for him. However, I knew if I brought up the idea, he’d tell me he didn’t need it. I had to make it his idea.

I casually told him that while shopping for new living room furniture I played around with one of those lift chairs. He asked a few questions and then made owning a lift chair his idea. My father had a couple of good years in the chair before he passed away. The chair lives on with another family member.

So, what’s this story about my father and a lift chair have to do with managing your boss? It’s that  sometimes the best strategy for change is to make your idea your bosses idea. Here are 8 more keys to how to manage your boss.

How to Manage Your Boss 

Hire the Right Boss

An interview shouldn’t be one-sided. Ask enough questions of your boss during the interview process to get a feel for their management style. Ask direct questions about how they manage. For example, how they share expectations, follow up, or assign tasks. Do your best to watch them interact with others. How do they manage the current roster? If you don’t like what you see, don’t expect them to change for you. Find another boss.

Get to Know Them

When I suggest getting to know your boss I don’t mean how they take their coffee, that’s fine, but to get to know anyone, including your boss, you need to understand how they think.

  • What motivates your boss?
  • What is their preferred method of communication?
  • How does your boss learn? Are they audio, verbal, kinetic, or visual learners?
  • What are their unique talents?

So, how do you learn all of this information? I’m glad you asked. The answer is – you ask them. Ask what motivates them, how they like to communicate, and how they process information. Don’t make this complicated, ask them.

Take the time to survey your manager to understand their expectations of you and your position. Learn their goals, apply activities that will help meet those goals, and then meet their expectations. If you don’t know your boss’s expectations how could you possibly meet them?

Bring the Bottom Line

I was working with an HR manager who was committed to employee wellness programs. However, not everyone on the corporate staff was convinced of its usefulness. Some members of the staff didn’t buy into the need for a wellness programs. Their opinion was it was merely for the employee with little or no benefit to the organization; therefore, it was wasteful to commit resources to the program. The HR manager showed the staff how a wellness program affected the bottom line by reducing insurance costs. Numbers speak.

Be Your Bosses Friend 

Are you afraid of making a friend with your boss? If your definition of a friend is something like, “A friend is someone who helps, a person who has your back”, why wouldn’t you befriend your boss?

“Have you been told not to be friends with your employees? If I asked should a boss help his or her direct reports, would your answer be absolutely? However, if you look up the definition of friendship that’s what you’ll find.” — Can a Boss be a Friend?  

Be a Crusader for their Mission

If you want to meet your personal goals, whether its advancement, a special project, or more responsibility, begin by championing your boss’s mission; learn your boss’s mission, and then be a part of it.

Don’t Be a Yes Person

A good boss wants your input. A great boss wants to know when you disagree and why you do so. Be straightforward, you might consider asking your boss how you should approach them if you ever have an alternate point of view from theirs.

Learn When and How to Say No

It’s okay to say no. When you’re not the best person for the task, when it would pull you away from important work, or it’s not one of your talents. However, your approach is what will make the difference.

If someone else is better suited to the task, simply state you’d be happy to take on the assignment, but John Doe is more qualified. If jumping to a new task will pull you off of one you need to complete then show your boss the work you’re doing, and then ask them to decide whether you should stop the task you’re on.

Why Should You Manage Your Boss?

I mean really, who needs the headache? Don’t you already have a full plate? So, why even attempt to manage your boss? Because your boss will not always be right and someone needs to tell them, and because some decisions could hurt you and your career. And the number one reason for me is I want to work with a boss I like and respect who makes me feel like part of the team and asks for my opinion. And to get all that I might have to manage my boss’s expectations of me.

How Can I Help You?

I like to help people and organizations, but I have three criteria I consider before taking an assignment – I believe in what the organization stands for, I know I can help, and it looks like fun. If you have any questions, Contact Me. 

So, does your business have a management training plan? Because, if not, many organizations, large and small, use my book, The New Manager’s Workbook a crash course in effective management, as the basis for their leadership development program. Check it out. It might help you stop putting off what you want to do.

Photo by ThisisEngineering RAEng on Unspl