Managing Your Boss


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Managing Your Boss

  1. 1. Lesson 9 Managing Your BossIntroductionIt is becoming more and more important to study this topic; managing your boss, fora number of reasons. Firstly, most managers have been promoted from a technicalbackground and have no management skills, hence, they are far from the ideal boss’who are easy to work under. Secondly, we are seeing an increasing role of expertpower today. This means that more and more young smart individuals are beingpromoted because of their expertise regardless of their lack of vast years of corporateexperience. This means there is more interaction taking place across age and culturalbarriers. There is a resultant clash of management styles present in the workplace. Bysimply looking at some book titles in the last 15 years it becomes clear thatmanaging one’s boss is a major need in our organisations. Each time I mention thistopic to executives it’s a winner! Look at these books mentioned below:“Managing Up:59 Ways to Build a Career-Advancing Relationship with Your Boss”(Michael & Deborah Dobson, 2000)“I Hate My Boss! How to Survive and Get Ahead When Your Boss is a Tyrant,Control Freak, or Just Plain Nuts (Bob Weinstein, 1997)It’s easy to see why the word “boss” has so many negative connotations. Althoughit’s a word which is no longer politically correct to use, it is a word whichencapsulates the understanding that there is always that one (or two or three) personwho you report to.Organisations are also starting to appreciate the value of upward influence. This iswhere people lead from the middle. They are seen as sources to learn from and theircontribution is valued regardless of their position. “Leading Up” is also a term usedto describe this phenomenon. It is defined by Michael Useem as “the act of workingwith people above you – whether one boss, several bosses, a chief executive, a boardof directors or even stockholders – to help them and you get a better job done”The upcoming leader of the future has this mindset. He or she wants to influence. Heor she lives in a constant state of tension between wanting to please and obey one’sboss and trusting in one’s instincts for the benefit of the company. With all this inmind, let’s examine some key principles in managing one’s boss.I. What does the bible instruct concerning the relationship betweensubordinates and bosses?Colossians 3: 22-25; 4:1 (NKJV)Business God’s Way © Paul Nyamuda, City Life Church (Student Notes with 48Answers)
  2. 2. 22 Bondservants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh, not witheyeservice, as men-pleasers, but in sincerity of heart, fearing God. 23 And whateveryou do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, 24 knowing that from the Lordyou will receive the reward of the inheritance; for[a] you serve the Lord Christ. 25 Buthe who does wrong will be repaid for what he has done, and there is no partiality.4:1 Masters, give your bondservants what is just and fair, knowing that you also havea Master in heaven. A. We should obey our bosses (Col. 3:22). B. We should prioritise God as our ultimate authority (Col. 3:23; Col. 4:1). C. We should serve with consistent excellence even when they are not present (Col. 3:22). D. We should do our work from sincere heart motive (Col. 3:22). E. We should conduct our work from a standpoint of the fear of the Lord (Col. 3:22). F. We should be more God-conscious than man-conscious as we go about our daily work (Col. 3:23). G. We should ultimately look to the Lord for the reward of our service. Col. 3:24). H. We should remember that we will have to give account of all wrong doing, even when it goes unnoticed by man (Col 3:25). I. Our bosses are expected to be just and fair (Col. 4:1). J. Our bosses are also ultimately accountable to God for how they treat their subordinates (Col. 4:1).II. What does the bible illustrate concerning the attitude of a goodsubordinate?The experience of Jacob’s work experience in Haran under his uncle Laban is a greatexample of the attitude of a God-honouring subordinate.Gen 29:7; 31:6, 38-42Genesis 29:7: "Look, the day is still long; it is not yet time to bring in the cattle.Water the sheep and go on grazing."Genesis 31:6: "You know that I have served your father with all my strength." Jacobalso described to Laban the kind of work he did for him (Genesis 31: 38-41): "Thesetwenty years that I have been with you, your ewes and your she-goats have notBusiness God’s Way © Paul Nyamuda, City Life Church (Student Notes with 49Answers)
  3. 3. miscarried their young, and I have not eaten the rams of your flocks. That which wastorn of beasts I did not bring to you; I bore the loss of it... In the day, scorching heatconsumed me, and the frost by night, and my sleep fled from my eyes."Genesis 31:42: “If the God of my father, the God of Abraham and the Fear of Isaac,had not been with me, you would surely have sent me away empty-handed. But Godhas seen my hardship and the toil of my hands, and last night he rebuked you."Jacob sets a good example for us in seven significant ways: A. He recognized what it meant to do an honest day’s work (Gen.29:7). B. He was not half-hearted about his work, despite how he had been treated (Gen. 31:6). C. He operated with excellence (Gen 31:38-41). D. He did not abuse his authority by taking advantage of his role (Gen. 31:38). E. He was willing to take personal responsibility for losses (Gen 31:38-41). F. He was willing to deliver good results even at the loss of personal comfort. (Gen. 31:41) G. He recognized God as his source and sustainer (Gen. 31:42).III. How should one handle interactions with one’s boss?In the context of question and answer sessions with one’s boss, Hamlin (1988)outlines the dynamics of power that take place. She states that the fact that you arecalled into a questioning session, the fact that he or she can ask you to come, that youwill come, and that you must answer questions makes the balance of power a littledifferent from that in the usual question/answer session after a presentation, whereyou have just demonstrated your power and continue it by inviting them to ask youfor more. Hamlin (1988) goes on to state that the key is to know and study your bosswell enough to discover how he or she deals with his or her power. She outlines avariety of predictable and understandable needs which bosses tend to have in theworld concerning power. Understanding these may be useful when handlingquestions from them:A. LeadershipIn order to establish and maintain effective leadership, a boss needs to know that heor she is in charge. No matter how flexible, this ‘last word’ leadership must finallybe unchallenged.B. High profileLeaders need to be visible to their troops. They tend to rely in part on the visibletrappings of their power.C. ComparisonSince power is relative in any organisation, your boss may feel powerless beforehis/her boss. This can cause extra pressure and power-wielding on the staff wheneverBusiness God’s Way © Paul Nyamuda, City Life Church (Student Notes with 50Answers)
  4. 4. your boss is in the presence of someone who wields power over him/her. Also thedesire to show his boss he is not too soft on the troops.D. PleasurePower feels delicious to many of us, and as a result there can be the abuse of powerfor its own sake.E. RespectPower brings with it an automatic respect. This may not always be heartfelt, and isoften for the office and not the person. Nevertheless, the person in charge does getdeference from his/her staff and a certain sense of the effect his power has over them.F. FearPeople wield their power unduly when they are afraid they do not have it or arelosing it. “Get it done because I say so” is a typical ‘retreat to power’ whenever aboss feels unable to deal with a situation or senses the power slipping away.Therefore whilst your boss’s ego, vulnerabilities and needs may not change, yourbehaviour is what you are responsible for and what you can change.Activity 1Reflect on this statement by Peter Block and assess to what extent it may apply toyou.Our initial willingness to be dependent also helps to create the cycle. After twelveor so years of school systems and family that treat us fundamentally as children,we are conditioned for more of the same. We may not wish to be dependent, butdangle a reward system in front of our eyes and we are ripe for the picking.IV. What factors will influence the degree to which we manage ourbosses effectively? A. Corporate culture B. National cultural factors C. Perceived power D. Personal history E. Entitlement mentality F. Inferiority complexV. How does one develop the art of managing one’s Boss?An art is human creative skill or its application. Managing one’s boss is an art whichdevelops over time. Outlined below are some keys in developing this art. A. Study your boss’ behavioural and personality profile. Make time to try to understand your boss; is weaknesses, strengths and pressures he may face from his boss. In other words, be attuned to your bosss changing needs and issues.Business God’s Way © Paul Nyamuda, City Life Church (Student Notes with 51Answers)
  5. 5. B. Aim to meet your boss’ needs as best as you can. You will best meet your needs if you help your boss meet his/hers. If you put your own needs too much to the fore, it may result in manipulation. C. Exceed your boss expectations just as you do your customers. D. Find out what would further your boss success - help deliver it. E. Make yourself indispensable by learning what your boss needs to know. This gives you more power to negotiate priorities with difficult bosses. G. Be proactive in giving your boss necessary feedback on your work schedule. Do not simply agree to do more work - ask for something in return - more time on a project, some help, other resources. H. Manage your own performance. Initiate regular reviews If not, your boss may not initiate feedback until something goes wrong. It is important to be proactive in ones relationship with ones boss. I. Understand your boss problems. Ask your boss what kind of pressures he or she is under, it can make a great difference in your understanding why your boss is not managing you properly. J. Compliment what is working. Give your boss positive feedback on what is working in your relationship. For example, say "Thanks for your valuable feedback," when he or she gives you a useful response. K. Be a role model. If you want your boss to do certain things, do them yourself. For example, if he or she doesnt listen well, practice active listening in your interactions. He or she will probably match your positive behaviour. This sis a subtle way of mentoring your boss. L. Understand the boundaries. Let him or her be wrong. Don’t be a martyr or rescuer. Remember that your boss has the right to be wrong or make a mistake. Try to correct something a few times and if it doesnt work, let it go. You wont always be able to save him or her.Business God’s Way © Paul Nyamuda, City Life Church (Student Notes with 52Answers)