Is it Possible to Manage my Manager or Boss?

The role of Managers in any organization is often associated with the success of any Project in a functional, matrix and projectized organizational structure. However, traditional management principles placed much emphasis on how Managers and Bosses otherwise to be referenced here as “Superior” manage their employees while remaining neutral on ways employees can manage their Managers and Bosses through a process referred to as upward management. Upward management is a conscientiously taken decision to work with your manager or Boss to obtain the best possible results for you the employee, the Superior and the company as a whole resulting to win – win situation.

Know Your Manager or Boss
To know your Superior is not limited to knowing his name and title but to build a relationship based on trust, dependability and honesty. How do I reach this goal? Just like any other relationship outside of the workplace, there is always a need for mutual understanding in traits, attitude, behaviour and character.

Another way to be informed about your Superior is to understand his expectations, strengths and weaknesses. Before your Superior agreed to work with you, he is of the opinion that your skills and experiences are adequate to carry out your duties to meet the company objectives, goals and expectations. Few of such qualities you can demonstrate include adaptability, self-confidence, proactivity and reliability.

Your Manager’s or Boss’s Leadership styles
In order to effectively understand your Superior, it is imperative to be conversant with leadership styles of the company and the particular style preferred by the Superior.

There are various leadership styles available but few are listed below:
• Situational styles which includes directing, coaching, delegating and facilitating.
• DISC: D – Dominant, I – Influential, S – Steadiness and C – Conscientious.
• Styles based on Myers Brigg’s type indicator.

Understand Yourself
The Superior is not the only player, he cannot play alone but you are the other player. Therefore, your role in building desired relationship is dependent on your ability to know who you are with respect to your personality.

As mentioned earlier, the Superior has expectations and you have yours. This can fall within the framework of how you want to engage in meaningful work and how to make it happen. Alternatively, it might be an expectation that your Superior should exercise reciprocity on delivering increased responsibility that meets your career growth, promises around pay, bonuses and promotions.

Furthermore, your personal assessment is vital to determine if you are the compliant type of person or non-compliant type. It is worth mentioning that most Superior will prefer compliant subordinate because they can feel secure without the impression of competition or whether their position is at stake. To be compliant in this sense does not reflect passive behaviour but to give consent accompanied with useful suggestions to support your point of view. It is believed that telling your Superior I cannot agree with you or I do not agree with you can be construed as being arrogant or rude.

Who is Your Manager or Boss?
Many a time, your assessment as to who your Superior is may not be based on facts and details available to you but something founded on false premise specifically on your perceptions. Usually this is erroneously associated with appearance or anything determined by the senses. Sometimes an inviting look can be interpreted as approachable when the reverse might be the case. Also, a serious look can be adopted for a person who operates with the principle of my way or no way when the reality is far-fetched from perception. Other perception about the Superior or vice versa is when the other is viewed as an ally, opponent, hypocrite and liability.

Assumption: Though this is similar to perception, assumption is more than that because it is about believing something to be true when it may necessarily not be the truth.

Hear say: A tragic assessment can result from hear say. It is important to remember that every hear say has been modified either by addition or subtraction. The problem and challenges is how to decipher the truth within the communication.

Comparison: Accepting the fact that every Superior cannot meet your expectations the same way helps you to refrain from comparing your previous Superior to your current one but to focus on how to establish a new and workable relationship.

Office Politics vs. Managing the Manager or Boss
A school of thought believe that managing the Superior is a form of office politics because it involves activities that yield personal results and benefits. There are two forms of office politics namely:
Positive Politics
• Building a relationship that is beyond your superior with the anticipation of maintaining your position and privileges in case your Superior decides to leave at a future date. Some people can term it “networking” within the organization.
• This can also involve your capability to readily gain access to vital project information, resources and ideas from your Superior because of smooth communication and influence.
Negative Politics
• Establishment of relationship for the purpose of personal ambition, promotion or a raise.
• Eye service or kissing up. Usually an eye service employee demonstrate an active work ethic only when the Superior is present and put no corresponding effort in his absence.

Are there Good or Bad Superiors?
In essence, I will approach this by saying that a Superior is neither “Good” nor “Bad”. Consider the person you think is bad for a moment, to another person he might be the best person in the World. Therefore, I rather classify the Superior based on his characteristics into two groups namely:
• Group 1 – People that are difficult, negative, micro-manager, road blocker, passive, aggressive and uncommunicative Manager.
• Group 2 – People in this group are kind, understandable, positive, tolerable, pleasant and high involving Manager.

How to Manage Your Manager or Boss
The following are just few of the ways you can manage your Superior:
• Keep your Superior posted with solutions and not problems. When you present a problem before your Superior it is best provided with alternative solutions you have worked out on your own.
• Keep to delivering your promise. Once you can deliver or get close to delivering your promise on an assignment the relationship is strengthened.
• It is vital to put yourself in the Superior’s shoes in order to experience mutual understanding. In other words, see his problems through his eyes. That way it is easier to comprehend his goals, expectations and preferences.
• Observe protocol to relate unpleasant news, to follow grievances and to express yourself on how and when to say no.

Things You Want to Avoid
• Do not embarrass your Superior in the presence of others. Handle his weaknesses with tact and diplomacy.
• Bad mouthing.
• Competition with a purpose to undermine.
• Do not hide your mistakes. You need to discuss them as soon as possible.

Now I feel it is possible to manage my Manager or Boss. In other words I can manage my Superior.


Olajide Ageh