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Skill Building: Managing Your Boss

There are dozens of careers and each demands a special skill set. However, there is one skill that is common to all careers, managing your boss. Without this skill, your path to success may be bumpy. We can categorize managers in many ways. Today, we will place bosses into six broad categories and share suggestions for managing these types of bosses.

Everyone's Friend

This boss wants to be liked and usually avoids conflict. They are likely to let problems or incorrect behavior continue until they are forced to deal with it. This is difficult for the staff because often they do not receive the feedback necessary for improvement and growth. Top performers will find themselves picking up the pieces for those not meeting the standards. It is easier for the boss to give more work to the top performers than it is to correct the under achievers.

Because this boss is unlikely to give direct criticism, you must ask for development advice. To build your career, request assignments to help you build your career. Relationships are important to this type of boss. Be honest and loyal always.

The Self-Promoter

This is the boss who is out to make a mark in the world. At times, this may include taking credit from a staff member. The self-promoting boss is always looking to grab the spotlight, this leaves little time for staff development and mentoring. You are just a satellite around this boss.

Find ways to increase their political capital. Asking for advice is an inroad to your professional growth. Because this type of boss is prideful, be alert for chances to give your boss honest kudos at office meetings, in newsletters and in front of clients. Also, be careful not to outshine your boss as this may threaten your boss and may harm your relationship.Even though you have become a part-time PR machine for your boss, do not forget to take care of yourself. Continue to enrich yourself and be alert for your next big opportunity.

The High Achiever

These dedicated bosses are generally the first to arrive at the office and the last to leave. A boss like this is constantly looking for ways to optimize the department and drive results. They are political people who understand the value of networking. Because they look beyond themselves, they are open to your ideas and eager to give you new opportunities. They share all types of feedback, so you know where you stand.

The downside of high achievers is that they cast a large shadow. Often, they are legendary in the department. However, they will challenge you and can bring out your best if you allow it. Take this boss seriously. Be on time and meet deadlines. Anticipate needs within your job and your team and take charge. Become an expert. Offer to share your knowledge with the team. High achievers appreciate initiative and commitment to the team goals.

The Roadblock Boss

The roadblock boss does as little work as possible. They tend to hire mediocre employees and do not push employees too hard. They love to preserve the status quo. These bosses tolerate mistakes, re-work, and inefficiencies. Ambitious employees or peers may intimidate this boss. They are called roadblocks because they are seldom promoted and seldom hire stars. They block the road for others to move ahead. They also hold the department back from meeting its highest potential.

Put this boss at ease by demonstrating that you want to make their life easier. Inform your boss of office news and competitor data. Volunteer to take on challenging assignments that may be bogging your boss down. It is critical to your success that you build a network outside your department. Try working on a task force or other corporate initiative that crosses department lines. If you hit a dead end under this boss, you will need other avenues to explore. Know when you have hit a roadblock and be ready to move on.

The B+ Manager

Most managers fall into this category. These are solid managers who do their best to run an efficient department. They are pretty good at giving feedback, and often offer opportunities to top team members. They are likely to do well in the company, as are those that they mentor.

This manager is busy. If you can solve problems, you will be valuable. Keep track of these problems and remind your boss during your next evaluation. If you do not have regular reviews, ask for a one-on-one meeting to discuss your performance. Monitor industry news, including new legislation affecting you and your clients. Condense that information and share the highlights with your manager. Stay in touch with your manager and discuss the types of assignments that you are craving.

The “In Over Their Head” Boss

Have you ever had a boss who seemed to know less about their job than you? Most of us can answer, "Yes." This type of manager is in over their head. Somehow, they were promoted to a position for which they are not prepared. Do not expect much guidance from this manager. This boss probably does not have much clout among senior management or partners.

The good news is you have tremendous opportunity to accept some of their responsibilities. A manager like this will welcome your discreet support. Be a resource of procedural and technical information. Find subtle ways to support without threatening. It may be tempting to broadcast your boss’ incompetency. Overcome that temptation as that will not be a good look for you. Instead network and keep your eyes peeled for challenging projects and possibilities for promotion. Your boss may not be aware of what is hot.

Let us close with a few universal tips the enhance your relationship with your boss and boost your career.

  • Identify your boss' biggest issues and solve them.

  • Use "we" statements to create unity when speaking with your boss.

  • Keep busy, but, make your work seem effortless.

  • Be loyal and committed.

  • Become an expert in your field and share your knowledge.

  • Encourage and appreciate candid feedback from your boss.

  • Volunteer for projects.

  • Create your own development plan and update it every 90 days. Share your plan with your boss.

  • Most importantly, add value to your boss, your team, and your company daily.

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