How to Manage Your Boss

Question From a Reader:
I was recently hired by a very nice man to help him streamline his operations and help the company to be more productive. He is the worst offender though, always over explaining and repeating himself. We ask a question and it takes him 30 minutes to get to an answer if we are lucky. He also won’t let go of the reigns and allow us to do our jobs.

He keeps getting involved in customer service issues but doesn’t follow through and it causes problems. He also doesn’t follow through on any of the suggestions we made and he accepted as a solution. We keep spinning our wheels and we are getting frustrated. Any suggestions?

My Response:
You have identified 4 problems when it comes to managing your boss effectively:
1. He over explains things,
2. He won’t let go of the reigns,
3. He keeps getting involved in customer service issues but doesn’t follow through,
4. He doesn’t follow through on suggestions you make.

Your job is to help the company be more productive, which requires you to manage your boss to help him or her be more effective.

I suggest you begin managing your manager by identifying the way you would like things to be for each of the above problems. Visualize the positive result you would like to see (For example, customer service issues being resolved quickly and adequately, etc). These are the outcome goals.

Then, identify the specific things he could be doing (including the things he could be doing differently) to help produce these changes (For example, he could step back from customer service issues and allow his staff to learn how to deal with them).

Then, meet with him to discuss the positive outcome goals you envision. Comment on a specific behavior of his that is not working and the changes that he could make to improve productivity. Point out the benefits that will come as a result of him making these changes (For example, how you could be more effective and produce better results once he loosens the reigns).

To manage your boss effectively, you will also need to continue to influence him and guide him toward the outcome goals because no one can change their habits overnight. For example, when he is over explaining something cut in and say something like “I think I understand. You are saying blah blah, so here’s what I think we should do.” In other words, don’t let him carry on forever. Interrupt and influence in a constructive manner.

Come up with a behavior strategy like this for each of your outcome goals so that each of the problem behaviors is either interrupted or becomes problematic for him when he engages in the behavior (For example, each time he has difficulty letting go of the reigns you schedule yet another meeting with him to go over that issue again).

Finally, make positive comments when his new behaviors produce better results. With persistence things will gradually shift and improve.

These concepts on how to manage your boss and others are outline in my book, ‘Secrets of Dealing with Difficult People’.

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Mark Lauderdale MD FRCPC
Psychiatrist and Personal Effectiveness Coach

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