Do You Have Boss Problems?

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    Are you in this situation? You and your boss just don’t seem to connect and work well together. It isn’t that you are having knock down fights. It’s just that you know things could be better. You don’t want to look for another job. So you have to figure out how to make it work.

    Here are seven guidelines for managing your boss so that your career won’t get stalled or sidetracked.

    1. Know thy boss.
    No two people think alike or work alike. No two bosses either. Your job is to find out her specific expectations – not to reform her, reeducate her or make her conform to what the management books recommend. For example: Does she want me to come in once a month and spend 30 minutes presenting the plans and performance of my team? Or does she want me to come in every time to report even when there’s a slight change?

    2. Don’t hide.
    It’s natural to yield to the tendency to minimize interaction with people we don’t see eye to eye with. Reducing your daily contact can cause a further loss of trust and respect on both sides. And a lack of communication can foster misunderstanding, mistakes and more problems.

    3. Have perspective.
    If you resent working under a manager you don’t like, you might perform below your abilities. Don’t let yourself fall into that trap. It could be a career killer. Rather, try to see what possible good there is if you let go of your frustration or anger. The boss can leave, you may get transferred to a more promising area or you may find that he or she wasn’t so bad after all.

    4. Don’t bad-mouth.
    Handle disagreements with your boss with particular care. Let him know of your concerns and suggest other alternatives or ideas. Support your manager’s position in public as much as you can and do you best to make polices and decisions work, rather than try to subvert them.

    5. Avoid war at all cost.
    The painful reality is that the boss has better access to power and influence at the top. If you take on this person, chances are you will lose. Management could very well stand behind the incompetent boss to avoid having its own hiring abilities called into question.

    6. Make the boss look good.
    Go to him or her and ask: “What do I and my people do that helps you do your job? And what do we do that makes life more difficult for you?” You need to find out what your boss needs and what gets in the way. Also, realize it is in your self interest to make the boss successful.

    7. Keep the boss in the loop.
    Bosses, after all, are held responsible by their own bosses for the performance of their people. They must be able to say: “I know what Anne (or Joe) is doing.” Bosses don’t like surprises!

    How well do you manage your boss? What are some of the issues that won’t seem to go away? How can you do it better to get better results?

    Do you want to develop Career Smarts?