Manage your boss

Manage your boss

Manage your boss

“My way or the highway” was a favourite saying attributed to bully-boy bosses who couldn’t manage people let alone companies. Now it is said as frequently by employees as by their superiors.

Job hopping has become more popular today than cricket was in the 1960s. Someone who has remained in the same company for eight years is regarded as virtually unemployable elsewhere. Who has this benefitted?

It hasn’t made for more harmonious homes. A constant state of nerves about whether the breadwinners will still be employed next week is not conducive to contentment. Maybe contentment is not the objective of an employer or even of an employee, but a certain level of security is needed to create a stable life. A home where children are being prepared to run the world in a few years’ time needs continuity if it is not to result in neuroses and anti-social behaviour. Steady employment contributes to steady societies.

How about businesses? Do they benefit from a constant change of employees? In some ways, yes. Fresh ideas, a new view of how the business should be run, refurbishing the culture can all make a business sharper and more alert to the technological and other developments that are taking place. Most businesses can do that perfectly well with the employees they already have.

Moving employees around and shifting them out of their comfort zones from time to time works. Moreover, they don’t have to learn the culture of the business, they already know it. Now they see it from a different angle and that will stimulate them to suggest new ways of making it more profitable. I used to run two week-end courses simultaneously in Phuket – and the families came along, too. One course was financial and the other marketing.

I put the financial people on the marketing course and the marketing people on the financial course. Crazy? On the contrary, they learned each other’s problems, got to know each other, a few swopped sides – although that wasn’t why I did it – and all worked better together after the programme. A combined weekend of learning, bonding and team working. Cheap at the price. Everyone loved it.

But you’re not the boss, times have changed, every penny counts. All true. People haven’t changed much, actually. If anything it is easier for a subordinate to manage his or her boss today than it was twenty years ago. Here are six tips for doing so:

[1] Be honest, straightforward, reasonable but empathetic at the same time. What does that mean? It involves you in projecting onto your boss the issues, worries, personal concerns and difficulties s/he may be experiencing right now. You can do that if you are reasonably creative. Everyone can be reasonably creative.

[2] Bring new ideas, even quite quirky ones, to the boss frequently. They’ll get laughed at and turned down but a grain of sand is what produces the pearl in the oyster. Your strange idea will generate a business one day.

[3] Let the boss add to your idea – leave room for the ‘boss’s bonus’. Cake mixes only became popular when housewives were able to add an egg. Give the boss a chance to add the egg. The more it is his / her idea the better chance it has of coming to fruition.
What about the credit for it? Don’t fuss. Ronald Reagan said you can achieve anything as long as you don’t want to take the credit. He was right. Everyone will know in the end that it was your idea.

[4] Don’t creep. Sucking up to a boss is fatal. Not doing so can be fatal, too, so don’t try to bully your boss.

[5] Don’t just criticise. Everything in this world could be better so banging on about why it isn’t doesn’t help. Make your suggestions positively, with GUSTO – if you don’t know what that it, ask us. Enthusiasm is infectious, spread it around.

[6] Don’t tell the boss how to run his business. Just help him to do so.