Posts Tagged ‘manager’
Who doesn’t have a list of things they’d like their manager to do differently? Everything from the way he slurps that first cup of coffee in the morning to how he plays his staff against one another is a frustration. Though it’s possible to make adjustments in any working relationship, there are still going to be some things that don’t change; no matter your efforts. What then? Here are a few ideas.
Give it one more (different) try: Before you give up completely give it another shot. But, this time try something new. If the silent treatment hasn’t worked in the past, perhaps actually talking about the issue will. Or, if you’ve asked him to stop doing something, maybe asking him to start doing the opposite will help him visualize what it is you’d like. Be careful, though, not to gang up, speak for others, or be underhanded in your new approach. The point here is for you to examine whether or not your method is getting in the way of a resolution.
Stop complaining: The amount of energy you expend talking about, worrying about, and obsessing over your manager’s behavior is only draining you. Plus, you may be alienating others with your constant complaints or myopic view of what’s happening. Lamenting about your manager at work erodes your reputation and doesn’t change a thing. If he gets wind of your criticisms from others, rest assured he will not be open to your assessment of his behavior; and he even may set out to prove that he’s the one with the power here, thank you very much. Instead of becoming mired in your desire to change him, look for a different outlet for your attention and put your energy there.
Find the positive: If the aforementioned coffee slurping manager has great mentoring skills, concentrate on that aspect of your working relationship and let the other stuff go. See if you can find a learning opportunity in the situation. Maybe this is a chance for you to step outside yourself and extend a little compassion to him. Even feeling dumped on with extra work and big projects allows you to beef up your resume if and when you’re ready to leave.
Adapt: If your boss is significantly set in his ways you may not be the first person to come along and try to change things. Instead, try changing how you react to what’s happening. Look for ways to respond to him when he pushes your buttons that won’t escalate your anxiety or cause your blood pressure to spike. Is it possible that your expectations are what are causing your frustration? Adapting to personal preferences for how another person behaves isn’t easy, but it’s certainly possible.
Plan your exit: When you simply can’t handle your current situation, consider what’s important and follow a strategy for a period of time that feels comfortable and right for you. Your plan may include eventually leaving your present work environment, or you may decide that staying where you are is the best thing to help you reach your goal for a secure retirement, continued health benefits, or simply a good letter of recommendation. Knowing what you want (and when) helps you look beyond the current situation and temporary problems to something that more closely matches your needs.
If you’re like me you’ve had a career that spans more than a few years and you’ve probably come across more than a few different boss types. And, if you’re like me, you may have learned the hard way what not to do when dealing with them. Managers can be an interesting bunch: Some of them will drive you crazy, some are complicated enigmas, and a few will motivate you to grow far beyond the limits you’ve set for yourself.
During workplace mediations, I’m often asked for my insight on dealing effectively with management styles. Most people doing the asking would probably be satisfied if I replied that their boss is an idiot and the employee should feel free to ignore him, but I think a more humane approach is better. Here’s what you can do.
Before you bristle at the thought of showing your boss any kind of compassion, know that there are smart, strategic reasons for applying a little humility with higher-ups. Here are three good ones.
1) They stand between you and a paycheck (or a good reference if you’re headed out of dodge!).
2) It’s better to have a difficult personality on your side rather than working against you.
3) You never know when you’ll see them again!
Start by seeing things from their perspective and consider the real motivation behind their behavior. Once you get past flip thinking like, “He does that because he wants me to be miserable,” you’ll begin to have an understanding of what drives him or her. That piece of information will be the key to unlocking how to handle things.
For instance, if your boss is a micromanager, she may be concerned with her reputation or care deeply about the final product. Knowing that, you can deal with her by steering her in the right direction. Consider what she does well and then say, “Where you really add value is with xyz.” Get her focused on areas that have the potential to help you. Create check-in points at the beginning of a project. If she’s not crazy about doing that, ask if she’s willing to give it a shot just this once and if she’s still uneasy, ask what would make her feel comfortable with fewer check-ins. Finally, ask for her overall vision or goal and pledge to make decisions based on that goal. Let her know that you believe an important part of your job is to make her look good and she may be more trusting.
What should you know if your manager is an egomaniac? It’s very likely that he’s insecure, looking for respect, or bringing a whole lot of little red wagon issues from his past into the office. So, how might you deal with him? Easy: appeal to his ego! Remember not to take his need for attention personally or think that any attention going to him is attention not going to you. Instead, find a way to share in the attention he works so hard to garner. Say things like, “I’d like your opinion on…” and “I think you could really help me with this.” If he thinks he can get a little credit from what you do, he’ll do a lot for you. Obviously, don’t forget to give him credit for things along the way.
If your boss is someone you consider to be ineffective or clueless, it might be because she’s facing too much responsibility too soon, has been put in a position she doesn’t have the skills for, (or actually lacks the information she needs). She might value her reputation as much as a micromanager and therefore is afraid to acknowledge her shortcomings. Deal with her by having a little compassion and show her how to help you. Have a few, “What are your thoughts on, abc”-type conversations so you can subtly coach her in areas you feel she needs development. When you know the answers to something ask, “What would you like me to do about this… x or y?” Giving her the answer is a great way to demonstrate how she might approach similar situations in the future and gets you to the finish line quicker. Take her through the pros and cons of each choice so she can see how you’re attacking the decision-making process and she can hear about your experience with similar problems at the same time. Blurting out what she doesn’t know and how experienced you are will probably backfire so put on a mentor hat and respectfully help her along. Oh, and there must be something she does well so make sure you point that out to her every once in a while.
What can I say about workaholics? You know the type—he goes out of his way to talk about all the hours he’s put in, brags about missing the birth of his child because he was closing a big deal, or sends you text messages at 3 o’clock in the morning. The motivation for a workaholic can be anything from insecurities to an addictive personality. If you’re dealing with a workaholic start by limiting conversation about your family and friends, cut to the chase whenever you need to talk to him, be ready with information, and don’t put off tomorrow what you can get done today. You might also think about adjusting your work schedule to fit his or find time to get work done when he’s not around (like early mornings or after the kids are in bed) so you don’t have to keep him waiting for information. With that said, helping him prioritize will help lighten your assignment load. If he’s given you six things to accomplish in the next week, take ten minutes with him to ask his advice on what he sees as the most pressing. It’s not unusual for workaholics to say everything is equally important so let him know you’re asking because you want to make sure you’re focused on whatever is going to make the best impression on his behalf. Approach everything from a business perspective. Rather than saying you’re getting burned out by the extra hours and your personal life is suffering, say something like, “I’m concerned that workload is affecting quality and has the potential to erode the team’s reputation, so I’d like to brainstorm how we could manage the tasks better.” Be sure to have at least three solutions to propose because workaholics usually don’t react well to blank stares.
If you work for someone with any of these management styles or a boss who’s overly-dramatic, someone who misunderstands the real issues, a guy who looks the other way, or a dismissive supervisor, applying a simple formula may make your life easier. Namely, figure out what the value or motivation is behind his behavior and then craft or mold your behavior to get what you want by giving him what he wants. Remember to always attack the problems, not the person.
Like it or not, the big boss often stands between us and paychecks or promotions. Logic tells us that it’s a good idea to keep anyone with that kind of power on our good side, right? But, in reality, we’re often our own worst enemies when it comes to knowing how to turn our managers into our biggest fans. Instead of working to keep bosses happy, many of us make common mistakes that end up turning a boss against us faster than we can say, “I need a new job.”
Ignoring: Treating your boss as if he and/or his ideas are inconsequential to your success is foolish. Not showing up for meetings or dismissing his requests will rile him up in a way that he won’t soon forget. The same is true for missing deadlines or refusing to follow through on assignments. And, ignoring any problems that exist between the two of you will only make them worse. You may feel you’re 100% in the right, but rest assured he’ll place the blame for issues squarely on your shoulders.
Sabotaging: Not doing your best on a project you think isn’t worth your time, not asking for help when you need it, or treating clients and vendors poorly are all acts of sabotage that are sure to anger even the most level-headed supervisor. Sabotage can be overt like saying you’re going to do everything in your power to make sure xyz doesn’t happen (and then doing it), or it can be stealthy like not using key contacts or not sharing information to ensure a project doesn’t get off the ground. Oh, and saying, “I told you so” in the voice of a third grader is a good way to sabotage morale, future projects, and your reputation.
Going over, around, or behind him: Communicating in any way that treats your boss like the enemy falls under this category. Actions like speaking to your manager’s boss about your manager, going behind your boss’s back to promote yourself with clients, or leaving her out of the communication loop at any step of the way are all ways to maneuver around a supervisor. Not speaking to her directly lets others do the speaking for you and when they let her in on what you’ve done (and they will!) rest assured she’s going to be furious.
Admittedly, sometimes it feels easier to ignore bosses and just do what we would do if we were in charge. But, the truth of the matter is, we’re not in charge. Sure, you can sabotage projects you don’t believe in and gloat afterwards, or take the opportunity to bad mouth your manager during a chance encounter with his boss in the elevator, but in the end that type of behavior doesn’t do anything but make you look bad and make your manager really mad.
If you’d like to have a boss who’s more your advocate and less your nemesis, make his ideas work even when (actually especially when) you don’t agree with them, respectfully say what you have to say to him rather than to others, and show up for everything.