It’s not just shoes that need breaking in, it’s managers, too. Whip yours into shape to storm ahead at work
There you are sending emails, making calls and generally working hard, when suddenly a dark shadow looms over you. Dread swirls around your stomach. It’s your boss. And you really don’t fancy dealing with him/her. According to reports, one in 10 people hate their jobs because of their boss*. “Your manager is the single most important person in determining whether you enjoy work or not,” says psychologist and success coach Dr Rob Yeung. But by understanding your boss, you can change how you feel. Work out how they tick by taking our quiz, and learn how to deal with their ways at work.
How it works
Read the scenarios below and ask yourself how your boss would react. Tot up the number of As, Bs and Cs to work out how to manage them.
70 per cent of us think that we can do a better job than our boss does**
* You have a great new idea and want to chat it through. Your boss…
a) Discusses it with you for an hour, then asks you to write a five-page proposal.
b) Tells you they like things just the way they are, thanks very much.
c) Suggests you drop them an email.
* You hear rumours of redundancies and ask what’s going on. Your boss…
a) Calls a meeting to talk everyone through what’s happening.
b) Says there’s nothing to worry about, then fires their PA while you’re at lunch.
c) Looks confused and asks what you’ve heard.
* You work on a proposal for your manager to present to the big cheese. Your boss…
a) Gets you to redraft it, twice, then feeds back on how it went down.
b) Passes the work off as their own before bagging a bonus.
c) Asks you to text her the gist of it on her way to the meeting.
* There’s a promotion in the offing so you make it clear you want to apply. Your boss…
a) Suggests you redo your CV and plans coaching sessions to prep you.
b) Says you’re unlikely to get it and advises you to work on your current role.
c) Wishes you luck.
* There’s gossip going around that two of your colleagues hooked up at the summer party. Your boss…
a) Confronts the issue, making the office a no-gossip zone, and threatens disciplinary action for anyone who breaks the rule.
b) Tries to find out what you know. This could come in handy as ammunition…
c) Laughs at what a crazy night it was.
* It’s Friday afternoon. You’re looking forward to cocktails when a last-minute deadline comes in. Your boss…
a) Asks if you mind staying late, then explains exactly what you need to do.
b) Makes the whole team work till dawn to get it done.
c) Is already in the pub.
Your boss is someone who likes to talk everything through in a lot of detail. If you’re used to being more independent at work, this may feel frustrating. But there are upsides to having a detail-driven boss. “My organisations are run with military precision,” says The Apprentice’s Karren Brady in her autobiography, Strong Woman. “People know they have to deliver and they know exactly what they have to do, so the culture is ‘demanding but fair’.”
Beat the boss “Try to see things from your boss’ point of view,” says Al Coleman Jr, business mentor and author of Secrets To Success. “If you understand the goals and pressures your boss is facing, you may be able to approach the situation in a way that gets the best results for both of you.” Got a boss who sweats over the small stuff? Get organised. Keep your manager regularly updated with emails and summary chats. “Make it easy for your boss to rely on you,” adds Michelle Mone, Ultimo entrepreneur and Fabulous career pro. If you see them getting swamped, offer to take on extra tasks, proving your reliability factor.
Storm ahead Free iPhone app Wunderlist can organise tasks and sync with your work computer, so you can be all over your (and your boss’) to-do lists in and out of the office.
The Mate Manager
Your boss would rather be your friend than your manager and isn’t too fussed about what goes on in the office. This “hands-off” style doesn’t offer much guidance, but it does mean you can set your own goals. “Managers like this offer numerous opportunities to win them over, because they often give a lot of freedom to employees to try new approaches and get things done,” says Al.
Beat the boss It’s role-reversal time. “You need to manage your boss,” says Paul. “Start by asking for what you want. For example, you could say: ‘I’m one of those people who needs regular feedback.’” Vague bosses won’t go into detail about what needs doing, so asking for more info is the best way to progress. Then turn their slack approach to your advantage. “You might be good in one area but lacking skills in another, so ask if there are in-house courses you can go on,” says Michelle. Start honing your own management skills and you can reap the rewards when you skip past your own boss on the career ladder.
Storm ahead Follow @ManagementTip on Twitter for practical advice on training and dealing with
a tricky manager. Or read Dr Rob Yeung’s I Is For Influence: The New Science Of Persuasion (£11.99, Macmillan), which has all the info you need to get ahead of your boss.
The Manipulative Manager
A boss like this isn’t looking out for your best interests – they’re too busy keeping an eye on their own. Lord Sugar has met more than his fair share of ball-busters over the years. “You need to learn to recognise the dodgy people out there who don’t have the same principles as you,” he says in his book The Way I See It. We’re not gonna argue with Shugs.
Beat the boss Clarity is key when it comes to breaking a manipulative manager. “Ask politely how they like to communicate – via email or face to face – so they’ll be more receptive to your ideas,” suggests Paul Matthews, founder of business training company People Alchemy. Even if you don’t agree with their methods, playing it their way will help. “Then work hard and make everyone aware of your achievements,” he adds. People will soon realise your boss is a glory stealer.
Storm ahead Console yourself by watching black comedy Horrible Bosses, starring Jennifer Aniston. Things can’t be as bad as that. And try Nationalcareersservice.direct.gov.uk for motivational advice and training tips.