Manage Your Boss - And Get Ahead!
It's clear there are a number of common issues faced by business people across totally unrelated industries and environments. This series was created to provide some perspective and guidance to executives as they negotiate their way up the corporate ladder.
In 2001, I started the consulting and coaching practice, which came to known as The Business Success Coach.net. I'd just finished working with a very large multinational firm owned by one of the largest companies in the world. With 25 years as an executive in various industries across the US and Canada; I'd managed startups and overseen layoffs of thousands of people.
I had enough boardroom experience to be certain that many hassles faced by management today can be prevented.
Choose your Boss Wisely
The best Tip I can give anyone just entering business life
is, "choose your first job based upon the boss and not on
money or upward mobility prospects. How you learn the ropes
in the early years will set you up for life." Once in, we
all learn that Tony Soprano, Miranda Priestly and Ebenezer
Scrooge have a few things in common. These fictional
characters, inhabiting the world of television, novels and
films, are the stereotype of a nightmare boss.
If any of them remind you of YOUR boss, you may be wondering what can be done to 'manage' her or him. As a business coach, hear the issue frequently mentioned, and it seems to be more prevalent each year. The relationship with the boss is a big concern for both recent hires and for individuals who've been with a company for a while.
New hires are often surprised to learn that the boss doesn't seem to care a lot about their career aspirations. For many people who've worked for a company for a longer term, these lofty expectations for how the boss should behave don't diminish over time. The expectations are, in fact, a big part of job dissatisfaction. For the more experienced, the relationship with the boss is viewed from the point of view of the individual's aspirations for professional growth through promotions, increased compensation, bonuses, and perks.
And so you want to learn how to 'manage the beast'. Can you? Should you? Who can help you learn how to do it?
If you are thinking about getting a coach to help you develop a strategy to deal with your boss, let me save you the time and money with some straightforward advice: Yes - you can manage your boss. In fact you'll get farther ahead if you learn how to use your boss' quirks to YOUR advantage.
Here are a 'Top 10' of Tips and Secrets I've seen used very
effectively by managers over the years. I put it together
with the help of Barry Agnew, a very good friend. Agnew is
one of the finest marketing and sales promotion guru's I've
ever met. Anyone seeking new ideas would be wise to talk to
him. Email me for his contact info.
John's Tip #1: Results = Rewards. There will be times it
seems that form and process are the most important things
in your company and consequently to your boss. They aren't.
Over thirty years, I don't recall a single person getting a
monster bonus at year's end or awesome promotion for
following the company's process better than the rest of us.
Over the long run, great rewards and promotions go to the
one who gives great results.
John's Tip #2 Face time works to your benefit. So your boss
is incompetent; & doesn't have a clue about the company,
your job or even his own. Do you really have to waste more
your time meeting with him (or her)? Yes, absolutely. And
it's not a waste.
It's actually smart to spend time with your superior. Don't
rely solely on email or voicemail. Your boss probably
receives too many electronic messages already. And while it
seems like efficient time management to communicate through
email or voicemail, it does little good for your career if
(s)he doesn't know much about you beyond the role you
Go out of your way to talk to the boss about your
responsibilities and accomplishments in person. Leave it to
everyone else to fill up the boss' in-boxes.
John's Tip #3: A good listener is hard to find. Recognize
that all bosses expect to be heard and then have their
directions followed. So - "Listen, listen, listen. And
remember that you have two ears and one mouth for a good
Don't be one of those misguided types who debates
everything they're instructed to do. After the first 1 or 2
times, it doesn't show anyone how smart you are. It just
becomes tiresome. If this is tough at times, keep in mind
that someone else in your company is ready and willing to
listen to the boss. Better it's you.
Your Boss Works Late?
John's Tip #4: Be there. If the boss is at work, it'll be
much better for your career if you are there as well. This
isn't particularly convenient if the boss has no personal
life, likes to work a lot of hours or thinks sleeping &
vacations are overrated. Nonetheless it's usually effective
if you want to get ahead. Let the boss know that you're
there for the good, the bad and the ugly. (S)he'll see that
you are committed to supporting him or her and the company.
The boss will also recognize those who are never there as
well. You want to be seen as the person who can always be
counted on. That leads me to:
John's Tip #5: Just fix it. Bosses like and reward people
who tell them after the fact that a potential problem was
identified & fixed before it became an issue needing them
to get involved. When we behave this way, bosses feel
confident that they have the right managers in place (and
having such great staff makes the bosses look real smart!).
Bosses usually recognize and value initiative and resourcefulness - so go ahead, be confident in your own skills and resolve the situation on your own, then tell your boss all about your success.
Honesty Always? Oh Honestly!
John's Tip #6: Never make the boss nervous. Many execs
practice "the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the
truth." But this truth banner can be carried too far. In most cases, it's wrong to think that every time things appear to be heading south (or even when the mere possibility of such thing is on the horizon), you must brief the boss. While it may be a good tactic if the boss is a committed micro manager, usually this almost- compulsive adherence to full disclosure will just cause bosses to start seeing you as the person who regularly
makes him or her reach for a bottle of purple pills. Remember Pavlov's dog. Make sure the boss doesn't associate
you with bad news.
John's Tip #7: Never delegate up. However you got your job;
someone thought you were capable of it. Let them keep thinking it. Understand that people in the executive suite usually aren't impressed by anybody who frequently runs upstairs asking for advice doing their job. Busy bosses simply do not have time to coddle their staff or to hand holding along every step. If it looks like you can't do the job without constantly going to your superior for guidance, it will become pretty clear to her or him that the company can do things faster (and better) without you. Not a good thing for anyone seeking entry into that executive suite.
Look Right. And Look the Right Way.
John's Tip #8 Your workplace isn't a democracy. If you
haven't figured it out already, the North American business
model is hierarchal. That means that the person above you
doesn't need to consult or even discuss issues with you if
(s)he chooses not to. Your voice or vote will not always count. Just remember: its your responsibility to do what it takes to understand what the boss wants and give it (which leads us to:).
John's Tip #9: Look up not down. If you look after your boss's needs before those of your own team, you increase your chances of getting your team looked after more fully. Your boss will recognize that you work hard to make him / her look good; and will be more likely to provide you with the resources you and your team need to do the job better.
John's Tip #10: Image is everything. Well, not everything but it's a really important thing. Your image or "presence" has a great impact in your professional life. Make certain you look appropriate for the role you want to have & not just your current one. Do the best you can with what you have. Be a confident communicator, particularly in person and when making presentations. The person with 'presence' is more likely to be regarded as a future leader than another who's more introverted.
There you have them. Use these Tips to your advantage. And
if you don't agree with any of these Tips, always remember
- only you should decide what's right for your situation
before jumping in. This is your life.
John McKee is the expert and visionary behind http://www.BusinessSuccessCoach.net, an online destination for professionals, from small and large business owners, to entry-level managers to senior-level executives -- and everyone in between, who aspire to maximize their success in the business world. John is now a 30-year veteran of corporate boardrooms and executive suites and he provides ambitious business people with sound, first-hand advice by phone, using his wealth of experience.
Take a Free, 7 Part mini Coaching Session by email by signing up at the website now.
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