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How Well Do You Know Your Boss?

Posted by Louellen Essex on November 22, 2013 in Communication, Leadership

A key to your success, as a manager, is developing a good working relationship with your own boss. No matter how effective you might be with your own staff, your image may be tainted if you have a less than desirable rapport with your boss. Becoming more aware of how your boss likes to work requires paying careful attention to his or her focus and behavior. Once you have created an accurate profile of your manager, use the information to work more strategically to add value to your work unit, and ultimately, to your own track record.

Test your current level of awareness by answering these important questions:

1. What are your boss’s top priorities?
In order to be perceived as a critical asset to your work unit, you have to be working on the right activities. By aligning your time and attention with those things that are most important, you will help your boss reach established goals. Making your boss successful, in turn, makes you more successful.

2. What specific pressures/stresses does your boss experience?
You can be of great assistance when you relieve the pressure your boss might feel. Notice frustration, anxiety, distractedness – all signs that your boss could use some help. Offer your assistance which mostly likely will be greatly appreciated.

3. What are your boss’s strengths and weaknesses?
Be attuned to the things your boss does well and learn from them. It’s easy to be critical of your boss’s shortcomings, on the other hand, but remember that no one is perfect. In areas where you boss is less effective, try to assist by giving suggestions or providing a helping hand.

4. How would you describe your boss’s preferred work style?
Pay attention to how your boss likes to interact with you and others. Does s/he prefer written documentation with lots of detail or a lively discussion? Does your manager want ongoing updates or an occasional email to keep abreast of your work? Do facts or emotions tend best to persuade your boss? How does s/he prefer to receive information ¬¬– email, phone, person-to-person, text? Once you’ve identified the work style, adjust your approach accordingly.

5. What is your boss’s conflict management style?
When differences of opinion arise, is your boss eager to have a discussion, or more likely to shut you down, trumping your ideas with his or hers? If your manager has difficulty engaging in open discussion, tread carefully, making sure you express yourself by owning your own point of view and not judging his or hers. Reduce the threat and you will have a better chance of being heard.

6. What does your manager expect of you?
Make sure you are fully aware of the performance expectations your boss has for you. Clarify goals and competencies to be sure you are focused on doing your work in a way that will give you the most accolades.

If you take the time to study your boss, you will find you can better adjust your approach to synchronize with your manager’s needs. Building a stronger relationship can help you, in turn, get the resources you need to lead your own work unit. It’s a win-win for both you and your staff.

What have you done to develop an effective relationship with your boss?

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In these times of rapid change, leaders can never stop learning.”

Dr. Louellen Essex