Hi, I’m Nicola from The People Mentor and in today’s podcast, I want to talk about how to manage your boss.
Imagine that you like your boss as a person, but when it comes to being around them when they’re in work mode, they can be a bit of a nightmare. Constantly changing their mind and moving the goalposts. Getting really stressed about the slightest thing. Expecting you to respond to, and deal with, every whim.
It’s exhausting. You’re constantly walking on eggshells, and while you like them and they might be a good mentor in many other ways, you’re fed up.
What do you do?
You have to learn how to manage the relationship with your boss.
Think about your life.
You manage relationships with everyone you interact with, especially the people who play an important role in your life, and you learn about their needs, anxieties, preferences, and much more.
This information helps you navigate all kinds of relationships, and the one you have with your boss is no exception.
To manage a boss like the one I spoke about at the beginning; constantly stressed and vacillating from one option to another, it’s not enough to ignore their behaviour, give them what they want, and just hope that somehow they’ll see the error of their ways.
The more your boss’s behaviour goes unchecked, the more they’ll keep on behaving that way, which is bad for you, bad for the team, and bad for business.
So it’s your job to call them out on it, gently.
They may or may not accept what you say, but if you say it to them in a respectful, empathetic, and supportive way, they are more likely to take what you say on board.
Leadership is about stepping up when it counts, finding the right words to say, and the best way to say it, and this is one situation where if you learn to do that, it will make you a more effective manager.
Having a respectful and supportive relationship with your own manager can be hard work, but it doesn’t need to be.
Here are some tips on how to manage your boss.
Firstly, don’t think of your boss as a tyrant or a strict parent-type figure, think of them as someone who actually enables you to do your job. They might be able to get you things you need or make decisions that will help you. This should be your starting point. Make a habit of thinking of them like this and it will be far easier to have a mutually-supportive relationship with them
Once you’ve resolved to adopt this perspective, then you can work on really trying to understand them.
What are their goals?
What kind of pressures are they under?
What are their strengths and weaknesses?
What is their management style?
What are their experience and perspective?
Knowing these things can help you give your boss what they need even before they need it sometimes.
Then think about how you like to be managed. How can your boss help you do your best work?
Work on understanding this, then communicate this to them so you can have a more effective and supportive relationship. You are there to help your boss become successful and vice versa, and you have a far higher chance of this happening if you both work to understand each other better.
Remember that your boss is only human. They have their strengths, weaknesses, and blind spots, just like you. The key to understanding and managing your boss is to focus on their strengths rather than trying to contain their weaknesses and use that as a starting point for developing a good working relationship.
Ultimately, it’s about knowing how they operate and communicate with them in a way that works, for them and for you.
For example, if you need to propose something to your boss, think about how they prefer to communicate and discuss things.
Some people prefer to talk directly about something so they can get to grips with what’s being proposed, and some people like to have some information written down and in front of them so they can read and ponder it before discussing it.
If your boss is the former, give them an overview of your proposal in person then follow up with an email, and if they are the latter, write an email or report detailing the main points, then arrange a discussion.
This isn’t about manipulating your boss in any way, it’s about getting things done in a way that suits them and you.
So building a good relationship with your boss is about working on developing mutual trust, respect, and understanding.
You do this by being honest and having open and regular communication.
Speaking of honesty, be forthcoming if you have to give your boss bad news, don’t wait until the last second. Actually breaking it to them might be the last thing in the world you want to do, especially if patience isn’t one of their virtues and they aren’t great at managing their emotions, but holding information back will only make things worse.
It’s also important that you don’t overpromise and underdeliver. Be honest and upfront with your boss and they’ll be far easier to manage. If you think a deadline is unrealistic, or there’s something that is seriously hampering the progress of a project, say so (even if it’s them that’s causing the issue).
You might think you have enough on your plate without having to manage your boss as well, but you can both be more effective if you work on getting on the same page first.
You might well be very different people with different communication styles, preferences, strengths, and weaknesses, but it’s better for you both and for the business if you communicate and compromise. It doesn’t need to be a battle of wills.
Do you need help managing your boss?
Do you know what needs to happen to get the business to go from good to great, but you’re not sure where to start (especially if you don’t know how to approach your manager to get their support).
I can help.
As the team fixer for winning teams, I can help you identify what’s needed for the business to flourish, and I can help you understand how to approach your manager.
My bespoke packages of training, workshops, and support will help you build momentum in teams and the business that will convince your boss that your way forward is the right way.
I know what you are thinking, your boss holds the purse strings and doesn’t want to invest in anything right now.
I’ll help you convince them that my help, guidance, and support are needed, and is a surefire way of reducing expenses, saving money, and improving profitability in the slightly longer term.
Get in touch for a chat about exactly what’s possible.
I hope you enjoyed this podcast, and I’ll see you next time.
This is The People Mentor signing off.
If you are a new manager getting the boss/friend relationship right can seem hard.