The other day, Leadership IQ sent an invitation for a webinar entitled, ‘Managing Up.’
The invite explained that Managing Up ‘…is about understanding our bosses’ strengths, weaknesses (I have none, BTW), goals, styles, and needs so that we can make them, and us, amazingly successful.’ Talk about a pronoun-heavy promise. Wow.
I’m a tad skeptical that one, 60-minute webinar can help us:
- Understand the four communication styles bosses use (I doubt I use any style at all. I’m a clumsy boss.).
- The eight questions you should always ask when your boss gives you an assignment (What boss has the time to sit still and answer eight, separate questions about an assignment?)
- Three steps to deliver bad news to your boss (I prefer one, very short step: “Steve, I have bad news.”).
In my century-long career, I’ve worked for many types of bosses. Some screamed. Some spoke in Byzantine code words known only to them. Others never explained a damn thing about an assignment. And one did everything possible to undermine my success (There were no tips for dealing with that monstrosity).
Some of the stars at Peppercomm have really learned how to manage me.
Ted Birkhahn, our president, figured it out when he was a lowly junior account executive about three decades back. He knew I didn’t like to manage in a vacuum (I need to know what’s what). But, he also knew I didn’t like information overload. So, Ted quickly learned to tell me only what I needed to know when I needed to know it. It was a classic example of managing up.
The problem with a quick fix, 60-minute seminar is obvious: every boss in every workplace is completely different. Think snowflakes. The tactics I employed to manage my screaming boss were dramatically different than the approach I took with the one who spoke in foreign tongues.
I’m a huge believer in lifelong learning, but I can save you 60 minutes right now. If you want to learn how to manage your boss, study her style. Ask peers who have worked with her for advice. And, learn from your mistakes. Eight generic tips here, and three there, are actually an invitation to disaster.
Listening is the only way to go. Listen to what your boss says, and read what he writes. He’ll give you very clear clues on the best ways to manage him.
And if he doesn’t, you can always download the Leadership IQ webinar from their website.