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4-Steps to Manage Your Boss With Confidence

With these 4-steps to manage your boss with confidence, you will soon be living a life of increased freedom and working on the projects you desire most.

Sitting alone in your office or cubicle at 5:00 pm on Friday afternoon, you’re staring through the wall and thinking about better connecting with your boss and earning just a modicum of breathing space to do your job.

Is that too much to ask?

Have you ever felt like this?  I have.  So now what?  Keep reading for the answers.

Setting the Stage

In today’s modern and fast-paced organizations where speed to market and corporate profits meet lower employee morale and higher turnover, it’s more important than ever leverage your relationship with your boss.

Managing Up is not a behavior you’re born with.  It’s not a skill that you're taught in a college classroom or during new hire orientation.

Managing Up is a skill and a behavior that we learn through the “school of hard knocks” or from others who’ve looked up from the trough of sorrow to learn a way to overcome difficult bosses and their heavy-handed influence.

Your boss might be perfect, the absolute best to ever hold a leadership position!  Consider yourself lucky and never ever leave their side.  They’re the unicorn of bosses.  For most of us though, this isn’t reality, so I encourage you to keep reading.

With 100% certainty, you can master simple techniques to manage your boss and achieve the freedom you need to reach your full potential.  I’m excited to share a simple step-by-step method of Managing-Up in any organization, with any boss, and in any circumstance.  These are universal steps that will improve your relationship and give you room to navigate without being smothered.

Step 1:  Understand life in your boss’s world

The world of your boss is never as it appears.  She faces daily challenges, just like you, but hers are multiplied by quantity and complexity.  In this daily environment, Manage Up to reduce her distractions and bring more calm across her organization is very helpful.

Learning to Manage Up is essential because your boss, like most today, operates in a macro environment and across many dimensions and segments.  There’s no shortage of problems.  It’s important to recognize this, and it will help later when planning your personal action plan.

Your boss has his specific set of hot buttons.  Understand what they are and what triggers them.  They are usually non-emotional because of the rapid-fire nature of solving organizational problems.  Consider it this way, when is there excess time or energy to be emotional about a whirlwind of business decisions?

Another environmental trait that your boss likely has is that he thinks in abstract concepts, trends, and ideas.  There’s not enough time available for them to micro analyze your business, therefore the likelihood of a disconnected relationship is higher.

Free Online Workshop:

Register for my FREE Online Workshop and learn How to 'Manage Your Boss',  Get Promoted Faster, and Achieve Freedom at Work!  I'll walk your through three (3) specific ways you can take immediate action today.

Register for the FREE Online Workshop here.

Your boss is distracted and often disconnected from the daily sausage making that is the inner workings of your business.  Remember, it’s likely he’s consumed with navigating a swamp filled with political posturing, innuendo, and backroom deals.  Is this always the case?  Certainly not, but the 80/20 rule is a good rule of thumb to follow.  It happens enough of the time, with most bosses, to make it a regular and expected occurrence.

Step 2:  Train your boss, I mean it!

Now it’s time to turn the tables and “decide” to take the unprecedented step of Managing-Up by training your boss to be the leader you need.  Doing this will bring you stability, sanity, personal space and the freedom to become the most productive version of yourself.

Does this sound unusual?  Not normal?  I hope so!

In today’s politically correct world, “not normal” is a great thing!  I’m not suggesting at all, not even a bit, to be rude, disrespectful or arrogant.  What I’m suggesting though is to be very “intentional” about how you “choose” to engage and interact with your boss.  Be decisive yet polite, confident yet engaging, transparent, yet supportive.  Training your boss might come as a shock to you but there’s no reason to feel anxious about it.

Why is this the case and how can that be?

It’s simple, and here’s the secret…... your boss will never know they’re being trained!  In fact, your boss wants you to manage them.  He dreams of having his direct reports help him become more effective and successful.  He yearns for more help and less passiveness from those around him.  No-one really thinks about managing up and helping their boss find more margin in his day, week, and month.

When you shift your mindset toward managing your boss, it’s likely that you’ll be the only one doing this!  Again, normal sucks and your behavior here is anything but!

It’s important to understand the environment of your boss, which we discussed in Step 1.  Once you recognize and understand key barriers that impact your boss’s effectiveness, you can create a simple method to address them.

Take the results from your discovery exercise in Step 1 and begin addressing these behaviors, one by one.  To start strong and prepare for building your customized action plan (in the next step), complete my free discovery worksheet available for download in Step 1.  This PDF worksheet includes the following categories to consider:

  1. Responsibilities: Areas that your boss leads, and other known responsibilities they may have
  2. Challenges Faced: Specific challenges your boss faces that create frequent distractions or roadblocks
  3. Hot Buttons/Triggers: Behaviors that set your boss off and creates frustration, anger or anxiety
  4. Appreciates: Behaviors that your boss recognizes or those that generate positive feedback

Step 3:  Use this simple communication tool as a prop to manage your boss

Now it’s time to consider the “how” in managing your boss.  There are countless methods and tools you could use to begin this relationship shift.

Remember, the goal we’re seeking is to achieve a newfound level of confidence and credibility with your boss.  With this in place, you will operate with more independence and less micro-management will be your reward.  Your boss will turn their attention to others not following this system.

I want to focus on one specific tool that anyone can complete, implement and experience a positive impact.  Your boss’s confidence level will skyrocket almost immediately.

I picked this tool because of its simplicity and impact it will have on any boss.  Managing Up is a skill and a behavior, and this tool takes advantage of both attributes to blow your boss’s mind and shift their attention away from you.  The result is you managing your day focusing on your priorities.

Take this Action:  Fill out and use this tool

The tool I recommend for anyone that seeks this shift is a one-page Focused Dashboard.  No need to reinvent the wheel, I’ve created this simple tool for you and you can use it immediately.

Download my FREE done for you Focused Dashboard template

Here are 10 reasons and benefits to using a one-page Focused Dashboard to Manage Up and train your boss to connect with you more deeply:

  1. Simple and fast for you, easy to complete framework with information you know and have readily available
  2. Simple and fast for your boss, easy for your boss to digest in less than 2 minutes. Less is more, and it gives her an opportunity to ask you questions
  3. Confidence builder for both you and your boss
  4. Keeps track of your most important accomplishments
  5. Shows your connectivity to the business
  6. Aligns with how your boss already thinks, acts and behaves
  7. Sets you apart from others, no-one else will being doing this
  8. Gives your boss “hip pocket” information to share with peers
  9. Redirects the boss’s attention to others who are less engaged
  10. Provides you with more freedom and less micro-management!

Step 4:  Put your plan in motion

Now it’s time to take it to the next level and put the car into first gear and start.  As with many things in life, starting can be the most difficult thing to do.  I will share my personal experience with you. This does not have to be hard.

I’ve made it simple for you to get started today, it’s an easy decision.  Here’s how:

  1. Complete the discovery exercise in Step 1. Don’t forget to download and use my free worksheet that guides you through the entire process
  2. Using your completed discovery exercise, take your Top 3 from each category and decide how you can better support your boss in each one
  3. Use my one-page Focused Dashboard to capture your key accomplishments and impact to the business. You can download my template in Step 3
  4. Establish the frequency that you’ll deliver your one-page Focused Dashboard to your boss. I recommend weekly on the same day and time.  This drives predictability and anticipation with your boss (this is part of training them on what to expect from you).

(Pro Tip:  Set up a recurring event or reminder in your Outlook or Google Calendar so you never miss sending an update)

With all that you’ve implemented through this method, your boss will see you through a different lens.  This perspective shift is likely to create a level of confidence that will provide you with space to breathe, positive visibility, and a pleasant work environment where you decide what’s important.

Freedom.  That’s what we want. Is that too much to ask?  I say “Hell, No!”

For more:  Listen to the Aerospace Leadership & Life Podcast, Episode 11, to hear me discuss and unpack Managing-Up

About Steven Foust

Steven is an aerospace business and leadership executive, coach, podcaster, online course creator, and entrepreneur.

With more than 30 years of business and leadership experience, he helps overwhelmed professionals crush performance and grow their careers so they can regain balance and take their life to the next level!

Steven’s mission is simple.... to serve others by providing guidance that inspires action and transforms the trajectory of their business, career and life. He helps professionals like you gain clarity, identify your "WHY", establish a road map and unlock the possibilities of your future.

Connect with Steven:

Email:  [email protected]

Free Managing-Up tools mentioned in this post:

Your Boss’s Environment Discovery Tool

The Managing-Up Focused Dashboard

A quick shout out and thank you to our partner at Army Promotion Points, which helps soldier with achieving promotions to leadership roles and impacting the lives and career of others.  Additionally, a shout out to a special partner at The Entrepreneur Ride Along for their encouragement and support!

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