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AT THE OFFICE: Winning over your boss requires managing up

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- It's often said that people don't quit their company, they quit their boss. But many workers can't leave their jobs in these economic times and getting along with the boss is probably more important than ever. How can wor...

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- It's often said that people don't quit their company, they quit their boss.

But many workers can't leave their jobs in these economic times and getting along with the boss is probably more important than ever. How can workers develop an effective relationship with their boss?

Workers need to manage up, says Joe Takash, a behavior strategist and performance management coach. "Managing up is effectively connecting with your professional superior. You win, your boss wins, and the organization wins."

Bahaudin Mujatba, chair of Nova Southeastern University's management department, has an alternate view: Workers can't really manage their boss, he says, but they can influence them. "You manage down, but sell up," he says.

Here is what the two experts say workers can do to improve their relationship with their supervisors:

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Learn your boss's communication style, says Takash, author of Results Through Relationships. How often does your boss want to meet and in what format? Observe your boss' pattern of communication and ask other workers what works well for them.

Be proactive. "Hiding does not put you ahead of the pack. Now is the time to step up. You need to differentiate yourself," Takash says. "People who tend to thrive are those who are courageous and upfront," she says.

Meet regularly. Schedule time to meet with your boss on a regular basis so you have a clear understanding of how well you're doing and where you need to improve. Don't wait until the company's annual performance evaluation to have a discussion.

Ask for your boss's opinion. Say, "I want to get your perspective on what my best approach would be. ..."

From the manager's perspective, "if you want to build morale, ask new employees their opinion and then shut up and listen," Takash recommends.

Go to your boss with solutions. "Any time you're approaching your boss with a question, you should always have an idea what you would do if you were the boss," he says. "That insight may catapult your market value."

Develop a power that makes you attractive. If you don't have personal power as result of your position, become the employee who has information about the industry or competition, Mujtaba says. Or become an expert, doing something better than any other individual.

Address problems. When you're not on the same wavelength with your boss, talk about it, Takash says. "Address things when they are not hot, when emotions seem under control." Try to ensure the boss is full engaged, not getting phone calls or being interrupted.

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Play devil's advocate. If you disagree with your boss, Mujtaba says, make sure the boss saves face in front of colleagues _ even if you're right. Subordinates can disagree by saying, "Let me play the devil's advocate for a minute."

In his corporate career, Mujtaba once took a strong stance against his boss. He later found something out that would have led him to make the same decision his boss did. Managers sometimes "have information we don't have. If we did, we might make different decisions as well."

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