How many times have you heard the terms Managing your Boss or Managing Up?

I am not sure the thoughts behind this concept will make your life easier, because:

1.  As someone who has been the boss, I find it quite disrespectful.

2. Regardless of your relationship with your boss, there is a huge power differential tilting towards the boss, and

3. Most employees have no idea the relentless pressures and priorities their boss is dealing with, and you are one more pressure or priority… So get over yourself!

The reality is you and your boss are involved in a very dynamic alliance which calls on both of you to cooperate and partner to achieve organizational goals.

How well you do partner with your boss?

Answer “Yes” or “No” to the following questions:

  1. Do you and your boss share information, stories, tasks, and so on? (Y/N)
  2. Do you feel you are “playing on the same team?” (Y/N)
  3. Do you have a joint interest for the goals you are trying to achieve? (Y/N)
  4. Is there a solid alignment between you when it comes to how to achieve mutual goals? (Y/N)
  5. Do you associate comfortably in an informal setting? (Y/N)
  6. Do you “know where you stand” with your boss? (Y/N)
  7. Would you say you work well together? (Y/N)
  8. Do you trust your boss? (Y/N)
  9. Does your boss trust you? (Y/N)
  10. Would you say you are currently “partnering with your boss?” (Y/N)

Total # of “Yes” answers ____

How did you do?

8–10 “Yes” answers: You have a solid relationship and partnership with your boss. Focus your attention on ways to improve it.

5–7 “Yes” answers: Your work together could probably be more productive and pleasant. Focus your attention on deficits in skills, differences in work styles, or management approaches. Then find answers to help improve.

1–4 “Yes” answers: Your partnership with your boss needs work. Focus your attention on issues of work style, trust, skills, and ethics. You will probably want to build a plan to approach your boss about resolving some issues together.

8 Ways to Better Partner With Your Boss

1 – First Try to Understand Your Boss

You need to ensure you understand your boss and their working context:

  • Goals and objectives
  • Pressures and issues
  • Strengths, weaknesses, and blind spots
  • Preferred work style
  • Then, you need to do the same for yourself.

2 – Don’t Try To Reform Your Boss!

Your boss is human with strengths and limitations, so it is a far more productive approach to build on strengths than trying to remedy limitations.

3 – Build on Strengths

One effective way to support your boss is supporting them in doing what they themselves are good at.

4 – Focus Strengths on Things That Matter

Of course strengths matter but their real value only comes when they are applied to the things that matter ask, “what does they need from me to perform?”

5 – To Support Your Boss: Find What Works

This is not about “crawling” to the boss. You need to start with what you consider to be the right thing to do. Find ways to communicate these to your boss and have them accepted.

6 -To Manage Your Boss: Build Your Relationship

Go about building your relationship based on good, regular, open communication which should be built on trust, respect, and understanding.

7 – How to Avoid Being Overloaded or Having Your Time Wasted!

First, your boss is paying your pay cheque; asking you to do work shouldn’t be a surprise or considered illegitimate. What is not legitimate is an overload or waste of your time.

  • Tell your boss when you are reaching the saturation point.
  • Make your boss aware of consequences if she tries to overload you, “Yes I could get that done by then, but that would delay this…”
  • Don’t say “yes” to everything your boss asks you to do. Negotiate!
  • Ask your boss to prioritize when they gives you a list of tasks.
  • When asked to do something, find out details and, if possible, say you’ll get back to her or take a look at it. Then:
    • Work out what the job involves
    • Find out who else could be involved
    • Go back with an answer, “Here’s what I can do.”

8 – Remember:

Your boss is your boss, and you will never win in a power struggle with them. If you think you can do better: get qualified, apply for the job, and give it a shot.


One thought on “Stop Trying To Manage Your Boss; 8 Tips To Partnering With Your Boss

  1. Great article – all too often we read about how the boss can be better. It’s refreshing to learn how to manage up.

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