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

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Thoughts on Managing Your Manager

I'm always on the lookout for useful ideas on how to exercise upward influence. The most recent list of coherent suggestions I've come upon is at the Dumb Little Man website, a collection of contributed tips for handling all sorts of life challenges and conundrums.

The tips come from the proprietor of the Grad Money Matters site, who goes by the nom de net, ispf. In brief, ispf's tips (only the sixth of which I question) are:

Market yourself to your boss — "Make sure your manager knows at all times what you are working on" and that s/he is up-to-date on what you have accomplished.

Don't be overly sensitive — Instead of reeling from a sense of personal insult when your boss criticizes you, "find what it is that you need to do to rectify the situation."

Make your manager look good — This is an item that shows up on any list of managing-up tips. "Learn the difficult and dark art of making your accomplishments known to the upper brass without snatching away the glory from your boss."

Your manager is not your friend — Avoid embarrassment by staying aware of your manager's responsibility to put the organization's needs ahead of any individual employee's wants.

Don't be a pain in the butt — When you're facing a problem, try first to handle it yourself. If a variance from plan, such as a slipping deadline, is developing, give your boss a timely explanation, and lay out a proposed course of action that you believe will minimize the ramifications.

Actions speak louder than words — ispf is overly confident that "It does not matter if your actual job is significant or critical from the company's perspective — but if you do it well anyway, it will be noticed and will open doors for you." My version of this tip would be: Be sure to combine getting the job done with marketing yourself (Tip #1).

Don't hog your boss's time — When you have something to explain to your boss, make sure you are prepared to speak concisely and clearly. Do an advance mental rehearsal of what you have to say.

Identify your boss's weakness and take advantage of it — ispf offers the example of a boss with a big ego. Without become too slavish, stroke that ego.

Make sure your boss knows your personal career goals — If you believe you are ready for increased responsibility, or you want to move in a new direction, discuss possibilities with your boss.

ispf concludes with the timeless thought that bosses are human too. Treating your boss with respect, and adapting your behavioral style to the boss's preferences (conscious or otherwise), is your best bet for maintaining a productive working relationship — one that helps you achieve your own goals at the same time that you're furthering the boss's and the organization's goals.