How to manage your boss

Managing your boss is not as difficult as it may seem and "managing up" has become an accepted term in today's corporate workplace. No matter what your position in the company, you need to speak the same language and to focus on the factors that matter to the person you want to influence. This is essential to career development success generally as, at some point, you'll come across a boss, a colleague or a client who may be difficult to relate to or influence.

If you are having problems getting your manager to buy into your ideas it may be that you are failing to communicate with him or her on their own terms - in other words - you're failing to "manage up".

  • Understand your manager's objectives - and how they fit into the company's overall goals. What are your bosses' values? How does he or she measure the effectiveness of both him/herself and you? Take time to find out what makes them tick.
  • When presenting ideas, include your manager's goals and objectives - usually those that will improve the bottom line - and ask yourself how your ideas will benefit the team, the company and your manager! Don't forget that your boss probably depends on you to produce results and perhaps even organise the team. This gives you power as the better manager you are, the more likely it is that you will be seen as the product of your bosses' good management.
  • Don't assume that some areas of business are for you - and some for your boss. OK, your manager may arguably have greater status and influence, more experience and broader vision but you may well have a greater or more detailed understanding of day to day issues so get involved and keep close to the issues your boss is involved in - they are not superhuman and may just miss something.
  • Don't commit career suicide by not knowing what your manager's pet hates are - being late, sloppy spelling, rude jokes etc.
  • Don't rely on your boss for constant detailed guidance on every issue that comes up and so avoid consulting your boss on a problem if you haven't spent time out thinking of possible solutions. It will impress your manager if you go to them with a tricky issue and then suggest ways to resolve it. Gradually develop a way of handling your boss by understanding what to deal with directly and what to consult on.
  • Try to get to know your boss's boss. By doing so, you'll have a better understanding of what motivates your boss, what puts them under pressure.
  • Use a human touch: whether you love them or hate them, bosses are people too. They have bad days, they worry about their personal lives. Don't assume that every bad mood or snappish remark is really about you.

And finally, it's worth remembering what the author and poet Robert Frost once said: "By working hard eight hours a day, you may eventually get to be a boss and work hard twelve hours a day!"