Quit Waiting Around for a Unicorn - Six Tips for Managing Your Boss
“My boss micromanages me and it drives me crazy.” “My boss never gives me feedback so I don't know where I stand.” “I’m so overwhelmed because my boss gives me too much work.”
These are quotes we hear from employees. While our focus is helping bosses be better bosses, they’ll never be perfect. That would be a unicorn. So stop waiting around and manage up with these strategies:
1. Understand Your Boss's Work Style: Is your boss fast-paced or cautious? Does he like only summary information or lots of detail? Does she question everything or accept things as is? Understand your boss’s work style and align your approach with that style.
2. Get Clarity Around Goals: Many bosses understand what they need to do to reach a company’s vision, but they forget to share that information with their teammates. Ask your boss for specific team goals and what you need to do to help reach those goals.
3. Ask What You Can Do Differently: Most managers don’t like giving feedback, especially criticism. We work with leaders to call it “redirecting,” but it’s still difficult to even do that. A simple “what can I be doing differently to support our values and reach our goals?” would be a gift to your boss that would open the door to more open communication.
4. Be Proactive: Bosses like to avoid complainers and people who bring them problems. Be proactive. If you have a problem, bring two or three solutions to present to your boss. If you have a complaint, bring a request that will make your boss’s life easier.
5. Adapt: Again, there are not any unicorns out there, so you have to adapt. Understanding your work style compared to your boss's will help that. If you aren’t detail oriented and your boss is, ask a co-worker to help you out with a report. If your boss wants something fast and you work more methodically, reach out to another team member who can help.
6. Control Your One-on-One: Most employees think their boss should be in charge of their one-on-one. We disagree. Schedule your one-on-one and have an agenda ready. Share it with your boss in advance and ask what she wants to add. This is the time you can discuss concerns when you’re overloaded, unclear about something, or stressed.
If your boss is a screaming, raging, narcissistic, abusive person, you don’t have to adapt. Start looking for a job and we recommend never leaving your job without another one confirmed.
This blog was inspired by our Vital Learning course Communicating Up and this podcast from How to be Awesome at Your Job called How to Manage Your Manager with Mary Abbajay, author of Managing Up - How to Move Up, Win at Work, and Succeed with Any Type of Boss.
We now provide virtual culture facilitation, leadership coaching, and DiSC communication techniques.