7 ways to Manage your Boss in the office Let us face it. Office politics shall never go away. Without human beings, there would be no politics. However, with human beings in organizational settings, politics must exist in one way or form or the other. You may not like it but there will always be the maneuvers, moves and counter moves that the so called gladiators would make; some just to prove a point. Others for their own ego’s sake and yet still some will play office politics just for the mere fun of it.
Some people see the manipulation of human beings as a sport to be played due to the mere fact that other people exist in the universe. To others, politics is a game of survival. “How then does this apply to me” you may ask? And to that the answer is simple. The best card anybody can ever play is to be the most effective manager of the boss. The word “boss” could refer to your supervisor, team leader, manager, managing director, CEO or whatever else such a person may be called. The issue here is how you can win the game of office politics without playing it against anyone else. That is precisely the point of this article.
Office politics can be won simply and effectively by managing the Boss. It doesn’t have to take rocket science and a man does not have to land on the moon in order for you to realize that this is the best way to win the office political games against the “powers that be”. If you’re ready, we may now proceed to open the doors to “secret” knowledge that you can use to win! Doesn’t it feel good already? So without further ado, here are the methods and means of winning office politics by managing the boss:
- Understand the boss’s communication pattern: This doesn’t have to do with only how the boss talks to people or expects people to responds to him or her, it also has to do with how the boss interacts with others and how he or she thinks. While this may not sound important to some, this is indeed the first key to knowing how to keep the boss satisfied and happy while others keep throwing bombs in Iraq against each other and whoever else that may catch their fancy. Once you understand your boss’s communication pattern, then the only other thing left to do is to be able to predict how the boss will move and make the boss feel COMFORTABLE about moving in that specific direction. This is not about “sucking it up” to the boss (okay maybe sometimes just to massage his or her ego) but it’s about making the boss associate you with “good” feelings. Once you’ve done that, you will know because the boss will bend over backwards for you, he or she will give you higher responsibilities you know? The works!
- Maintain a professional distance: No matter how close you are with your boss, always make sure you communicate both verbally and non- verbally to him or her that respect. Let it be seen in your pose, your half smile, your written one page memos (more on that later) you know? It is not about the person of the boss. It is about the position the boss occupies. This is the mistake most people make when they get close to their superiors and all of a sudden find themselves in a position where they have disrespected the boss. Ouch! What a way to fall from grace! While it’s okay to follow your boss on platforms like twitter, make sure that it does NOT get too personal because that’s the easiest way to get out of your boss’ good books and out of work! Remember to keep your boss’s mind in that state where you and his or her happy place are one and the same.
- Always come before time: Most people think that coming on time to work is enough to get to win the game of office politics; or to even get into the good books of the boss. Nothing could be further from the truth. The best strategy would be to come BEFORE the boss which in many cases is to come before time! This sort of punctuality automatically gets you the recognition that you have been pining for all these years without having to do anything sinister. It’s always better to have the boss commend you for punctuality than to have anyone else do it eh? The same thing works for when the boss is leaving. Leave after the boss! Watch the way the Boss would just naturally “gravitate” to you! No need for Sun Tzu on this one! The use of punctuality is a card that if you play continually will always show you’re ahead of the pack, a leader that other leaders would like to make a leader out of!
- Show an uncommon commitment to work: By this, you can always show your boss that you’re willing to do the other things others aren’t willing to do… This yes will get you brownie points with the boss but will also show that you’re a stand-up guy (or gal). One who is always willing to take “one” for the team. Other ways through which you can play this card would also be to send and answer e-mails before and after working hours (showing a continuous interest in the organization even during your spare time), making helpful suggestions that solve problems discussed during staff meetings, getting your work done before time (do you need to be told how important that is?) and basically being a super hero (without a cape of course). The only thing your boss will be thinking by this time about you will be (“leader, leader, leader, leader…”). Well, you get the point. And before you ask yourself if that’s how people remember others (in syllables) yes, it pretty much is!
- Keep your communication to be as brief as possible: When you’re communicating with your boss, keep the communication on as brief a basis as possible. This is because by now, your boss would have been in awe of you (like: “Who is this guy (or gal)?” “Which planet did He or she come from?”). So, in order to reinforce your boss’s confidence in himself or herself, you have to make the focus of your communication to be ABOUT the organization and WORK. Show the boss that you’re always at his or her service and watch yourself rise to the top. Another example here will be to give your boss as many options as possible that reinforces that still small voice that you know your boss has. Give two designs of the same project, give alternatives that you know get the job done and that you know your boss will approve of. If it has to do with something so hair raising that may end the world or something, just find a way to keep it simple to the point that your boss can feel comfortable about sending humanity to never-land if possible (remember you’re in the boss’s “happy place?).
- Always be loyal, don’t blow it! : This is the most critical aspect of managing your boss. Every other thing you do will not matter if you are disloyal even once. Are there people saying nasty things about your boss? You have a responsibility to tell him or her! Is there someone who is stealing company funds? Same thing! Your loyalty to your boss could also in some instances interfere with loyalty to yourself! It may sound awkward but then again, you want to win the game of office politics without fighting don’t you? Don’t get involved in the boss’s personal life for WHATEVER reason. It’s none of your business and should never even come up… don’t date the boss’s son (pretty bad) or daughter (even worse!).You can walk the dog, drop the boss’s kids off where and when your boss requests favors like these but that’s about it. Keep your tongue in check about your boss’s excesses. Don’t gossip inside or outside the office ABOUT the office. Such things have a way of coming back to bite later. If your day is upside down, it is your job to turn it to the right side up. That’s just the way of the World. Loyalty begets loyalty!
- Always be consistent: Yes like the guys in the army, the navy and the other guys who man the skies, you have to maintain a consistent behavior and character that makes you become dependable, likeable and most importantly trustworthy! Yes it may sound like you’re robot but hey come to think about it, we’re all robots with personality one way or the other aren’t we? Being consistent involves doing all of the above and even more over and over again. Repetition is the key to learning and behavioral adaptation. With that kind of consistency, you would have one everyone to see and do things from your own point of view (except maybe the power hungry guy or gal) but hey, you’re a stand-up guy or gal anyway.
So there you have it. Managing your boss is more about managing yourself relative to your boss and everyone else in the workplace than it is about actually “managing the boss”. It is about being a better you. Doing more and achieving more. Most importantly, it is about making sure you use your head first then your heart. Remember it takes a thief to catch a thief. Manage your boss well, and your boss will also manage you well! What other ways do you manage your boss? Do tell!!