- Rob Houghton
Managing Your Boss
I have heard many of my candidates tell me, “I can manage my subordinates, but how in the world can I manage my boss?” It’s actually quite easy…identify your boss’s strengths and then feed this monster; do whatever it takes to make them more productive.
This is key because rarely do subordinates rise above their boss’s incompetence or ineffectiveness. Your objective is to make your boss more effective to get them promoted. And if your boss is unsuccessful, rarely does the next person in line get the job…you guessed it; it is someone brought in from the outside. I do this all the time. 95% of our searches are to find someone on the outside to replace someone on the inside who was unsuccessful.
So exactly how do you do this?
BOS/NOW: Build on Strength, Not on Weakness. Building on weakness is a loser’s game. It will sap you of your energy. Don’t try to reform the boss. Set the table for them to spend time on their areas of strength. For example, if they are a great public speaker, get them invited to more conferences, industry forums, etc. If they are the classic “numbers guy”, then maybe you take on more of the client-facing responsibilities allowing them to focus more in their comfort zone and area of strength.
LISTEN & LEARN: take the time to listen and learn your boss’s habits and manners. Understand them. Are they a “listener” or a “reader”? This will drive how you communicate with them and arrange for them to communicate with others more effectively. Some like group discussions with charts and graphs; some like direct face to face conversation across the table.
ENGAGE WITH YOUR BOSS: Don’t be afraid to engage with your boss. Know their wants and needs. Ex-bosses from years ago tell me now that I should have engaged with them more – stopped into their offices, invited them out to lunch; met with them after hours. Building a professional relationship is important, but never discount the value of a personal relationship too.
Just remember to build on their strengths and make weaknesses irrelevant. Few things get a young executive promoted faster than making the boss more productive.