Know your Boss and Work with him/her Accordingly


In the first company you worked for, your boss was comfortable with you coming in at 9:30 am and leaving at 3:00pm. He understood that irrespective of the time you came, your productivity was what mattered to him. Your new boss, however, is not happy with the time at which you report and leave work. You are wondering if your new boss’s concerns are warranted – after all you are productive anyways. You perform all your required duties during your working time so what is there for him/her to complain about? This is seriously affecting your relationship with your boss.

In this article, we want to address how to manage your boss and get the best out of your relationship.

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1.      Know and understand your boss’s professional and personal language

          Do not assume that what you consider normal, personally or professionally may be the same for your boss. Each boss I worked with in my first job preferred to be called by their first name. I actually had one boss who would ask me to pay GHc1 anytime I added a prefix to her name. This was not the same in my third job. Clearly, my new boss could not stand being called by her first name. I never tried it because it didn’t look like she ever wanted that. Actually, no one called her by her first name. I realized that the company culture was such that it never allowed for senior officials to be called by their first name, irrespective of their age. I struggled initially to adapt when I joined the company but with time, Mr., Madam, Mrs. and Aunty became my “national anthem”. Did I like it? No. Did it take anything away from me? No. On the contrary, my relationship with my bosses became stronger. Sometimes, what you consider petty is what others consider important.

Also, how does your boss like to receive their reports? Does he/she like to receive it verbally during meetings? Does he/she prefer to receive a Word document or a one pager PowerPoint slide before each weekly meeting? Does he/she prefer both? Whatever the case may be, do it as he/she requires in order to ensure that you work cooperatively. However, it is important to discuss the details of these requirements with your boss if you have any suggestions that will make his/her work easier which will in turn make your work easier too. Should you receive a “no” for an answer, don’t take it personally. Always assume that there are several reasons why people choose the options they do. I personally prefer a PowerPoint document with statistics. It helps me to grasp the information quickly and make recommendations easily. I will not be happy when I receive a 5-page Word document because I do not have the time and attention span to grasp all the details before I go for a meeting.

2.      Always put yourself in your manager’s shoes when in the line of duty

Can you submit the document you are working on to the CEO if you are required to do it? Will the reaction of the CEO be positive if they receive your documents? Are you working with the aim of contributing significantly to the organization you are working for? If you answered in the affirmative, then you understand the concept of placing yourself in your boss’s shoes.

Always assume that whatever you are working on for your boss will go directly to the CEO. So do not treat it as trial and error task. Invest adequate time and commit fully to the task. Respect the timelines and treat each task with the seriousness it deserves.

The life of an effective manager is overwhelming. You have over 10 reports to submit and 3 meetings to attend in an hour. There is a challenge the sales team is confronted with and you need to meet the sales executives to brainstorm solutions in 30 minutes.  All these activities can be performed effectively by the manager if they have proper inputs from their team members. Always think of how your boss feels if your work is inadequate. Imagine the amount of time they have to invest in making your work meet the standard for the meeting. If you want to be promoted, then be up to the task. Don’t aim for the position of your manager without having their capacity and skill.

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3.      Communicate with your boss

It’s through communication that we have access to information. When you try to have a conversation with your boss, it helps to put things in perspective. It allows you to know him/her better especially when you go into the conversation without any preconceived notions. You can listen and empathize. Through conversations, you can ask questions about how you can improve your work and also make his/her work easier. Some of these conversations may be tough especially if you and your boss have not started on a good note but think of it this way – you are doing this for you, your happiness and your effectiveness. 

Image by GraphicMama-team from Pixabay

4.      Refrain from taking advantage of his/her courtesy and empathy

Your boss is your boss first before your friend (that is if he wants you to be his/her friend). If s/he accepts and chooses you as a friend, do not cross the lines. Try your best to ensure that you do not cross the lines. Accord your boss the necessary respect you will want to be accorded if you find yourself in the role. You may be older than your boss or even smarter than your boss but refrain from being their parent in the office. If they require you to play the role of an advisor, do it tactfully.

To Managers or Bosses

1.      Without reciprocating respect and genuinely sharing your concerns and expectations with your team, you cannot be assured of their continued support.

When your subordinates respect you based on force or coercion, they will revolt eventually. Force achieves short-term results and even when the results continue for the long-term, you stay in your role with discomfort knowing very well that someday you will encounter opposition from your team.     

2.      Share your expectations and don’t live your life as a puzzle for your team

When managers try to be mysterious and enjoy hearing their staff tell them how mysterious they are, it only shows their level of insecurity. As managers, whenever you hide your expectations from your team and expect them to figure it out themselves, what you create is a lot of trial and error which will affect their output in this fast-paced corporate world. This does not suggest repressing creative initiatives. Rather, we are proposing that you share your expectations with your team.

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