August 2, 2012
Stuck with a bad boss? Time to try 'managing up'
Management consultant John Beeson has written extensively about how to deal with a bad boss. He says it's vital to career success for you to take responsibility for improving the relationship.
At least for the short term, your assignments, chance for promotion and pay raises may rest in your boss's hands.
"Bad" might be in the eye of the beholder, but anyone who thinks his or her supervisor is bad needs first to come to grips with this reality: In most organizations it's nearly impossible for a subordinate to dislodge a boss in the short term, Beeson says.
That means you need to spend less time griping, plotting or doing end-arounds and more time figuring out what makes your boss tick.
In a perfect work world, the burden shouldn't be solely on you to figure out the boss's preferred communication style, priorities, goals or decision-making process.
Absent that ideal, here is Beeson's most basic checklist:
√ Watch carefully to see how and when the boss appears to be most communicative, then use those tactics.
√ Figure out what the boss cares most about -- how he or she is measured -- and support those efforts in word and deed.
√ Try to identify your boss's expertise and show an interest in learning from him or her.
√ Find appropriate times to share your career goals within the organization so your boss knows your commitment.
When you've tried and the relationship remains unhappy, quietly pursue employment elsewhere, remembering never to bad-mouth your boss inside or outside your current organization.
Even if the boss deserves the criticism, complaints will only reflect poorly on you.
Diane Stafford is the workplace and careers columnist at The Kansas City Star.
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