There is no greater challenge than trying to manage your boss. We all have one. Vice Presidents have Presidents and CEOs have the Board. Husbands have wives, wives have their husbands, even the most powerful man in the world, the US President, has to work with Congress, the Supreme Court and arguably, the people. So how do you go about managing your boss?
Let me make this clear, we are not talking about a secret potion that makes your boss do whatever you want. That’s just not going to happen. What we can do though, is control expectations and the way we communicate information.
But the first step, the very first thing you need to do, is to control your emotions.
Unfortunately, before you can ever hope to manage your boss, you have to learn to manage yourself. If you cannot maintain your composure when dealing with your boss, you don’t stand a chance of managing him or her.
There was a great article in the Harvard Business Journal a while back about emotional intelligence. The premise being that leaders need emotional intelligence to succeed. The first step towards emotional intelligence is self-reflection. So here are some questions you need to ask yourself:
When my boss and I disagree, do I get flustered?
You can tell if you get flustered by listening to your body. You will begin to take shallow breaths and you may feel a tightening in your chest or stomach. If after you leave your boss, your shoulders are tight or hunched, you have some emotions surrounding your boss. Other obvious signs include crying, yelling or running, but I suppose you don’t need me to tell you that.
If you get flustered, or mad, you are going to have to discover why you react this way. Your reactions may be even a bigger mountain to overcome than your boss. Even if your boss is a complete idiot, if you are emotionally healthy, while you may get frustrated, you shouldn’t get angry. So a question you need to answer is why do you react this way?
Does my boss react negatively when I present information?
If your boss continually reacts negatively to your ideas or proposals, you may be presenting information in the wrong way. We are all wired differently. Some of us are analytical, some emotional. If your boss is analytical, and you present emotional arguments, you may be upsetting him by the way you present the information.
To communicate effectively with your boss, you must present information in a manner that is acceptable.
I have worked with individuals who remind me a lot of chicken little. The sky is falling. The sky is falling. When in reality, it was just an issue that needed to be resolved. Are you like chicken little? If you answer no, are you sure? I don’t like to listen to chicken little any more than your boss does. You may not be chicken little, but are you presenting information in a manner that is acceptable? Are you providing too much information? Too little? Do you need to take other things into account as you present the information. For example, I have learned over the years that if you take a problem to your boss, it is much better received if you have a solution or alternatives in mind.
Do you really know what is important to your boss?
I have been in many meetings where someone tosses out an idea to the boss, only to have it shot down. Time and time again. We all have ideas that aren’t received well. But, some of you make a career of this. Do you know someone that fits this description? Odds are that they don’t know what is important to their boss or the organization. If you find yourself with a lot of ideas that aren’t well received, you have to ask yourself, is it the organization, or me? Sometimes, pride can get in the way of making valuable contributions.
Reality is… your boss is your boss.
I can think of several occasions where someone went head to head with the boss. They argued passionately for their point of view. They provided evidence and data. More evidence. They were analytical. They appealed to emotion. They went on and on and on. Only to really upset the boss. At some point you are going to have to face the reality that your boss is your boss. You have to let go of your ideas if they don’t go over well. Harboring them breeds frustration and anger.
Hope This Helps!
All the best!