Prologue

 Good managers recognize that a relationship with a boss involves mutual dependence and that, if it is not managed well, they cannot be effective in their jobs. They also recognize that the boss-subordinate relationship is not like the one between a parent and a child, in that the burden for managing the relationship should not and cannot fall entirely on the boss.

 

 Bosses are only human; their wisdom and maturity are not always greater than their subordinates’. Effective managers see managing the relationship with the boss as part of their job. As a result, they take time and energy to develop a relationship that is consonant with both persons’ styles and assets and that meets the most critical needs of each

 

 

 Misreading the boss-subordinate relationship

 

 People often dismiss stories like one we just related as being merely cases of personality conflict. Because two people can on occasion be psychologically or temperamentally incapable of working together, this can be an apt description. But more often, we have found, a personality conflict is only a part of the problem-sometimes a very small part

 

 Understanding the boss and yourself

 

 Managing your boss requires that you gain an understanding of both the boss and his context as well as your own situation and needs. All managers do this to some degree, but many are not thorough enough

 

The Boss’s world

Goals and pressures

Strengths, weaknesses and work style

You and your needs

Your own style

Dependence on authority figures

 

 

 Developing and managing the relationship

 

 With a clear understanding of both your boss and yourself, you can-usually-establish a way of working together that fits both of you, that is characterized by unambiguous mutual expectations, and that helps both of you to be more productive and effective. We have already outlined a few things such a relationship consists of, which are itemized in the Exhibit, and here are a few more

 

Compatible work styles

Mutual expectations

A flow information

Dependability and honesty

Good use of time and resources

 

Whose job is it?

 

No doubt, some subordinates will resent that on top of all their other duties, they also need to take time and energy to manage their relationships with their bosses. Such managers fail to realize the importance of this activity and how it can simplify their jobs by eliminating potentially severe problems. Effective managers recognize that this part of their work is legitimate. Seeing themselves as ultimately responsible for what they achieve in an organization, they know they need to establish and manage relationships with everyone on whom they are dependent, and that includes the boss.

 

 

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