!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Strict//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-strict.dtd"> Streamline Training & Documentation: Managing Your Boss

Monday, January 08, 2007

Managing Your Boss

Every so often, the Harvard Business Review republishes an article that has proven especially useful over an extended period of time. One such is "Managing Your Boss," by John J. Gabarro and John P. Kotter, long-time members of the Harvard business school faculty. (Kotter is now retired.) The article was first published in 1980, and then reprinted, with a retrospective commentary, in 1993.

Gabarro and Kotter take position that bosses and employees are mutually dependent, and that this means that they share responsibility for building good working relationships. In other words, bosses and employees are more successful when they work together in an atmosphere of mutual respect and understanding.

Gabarro and Kotter provide a checklist that an employee can proactively use to note any areas in need of work in order to ensure understanding both of one's boss and of oneself, and also understanding of the context in which the boss is making decisions:
  1. Make sure you understand your boss, including his or her:
    • goals and objectives
    • pressures
    • strengths, weaknesses and blind spots
    • preferred work style

  2. Assess yourself and your needs, including:
    • strengths and weaknesses
    • personal style
    • predisposition toward dependence on authority figures

  3. Develop and maintain a relationship that:
    • fits both your needs and styles
    • is characterized by mutual expectations
    • keeps your boss informed
    • is based on dependability and honesty
    • selectively uses your boss's time and resources
It is important to understand that the active process of "managing your boss" means "consciously working with your superior to obtain the best possible results for you, your boss, and the company." For example, this post provides an outline of how to consciously plan a presentation to your boss so that it matches his or her preferred approach to decision-making. Note that there is no manipulation or insincerity involved.