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Manage Your Manager For Fun And For Profit


Want to be in control of your relationships with your boss? Want to be praised? Want to anticipate critiques and make most out of it?

Here is my take – manage your manager.

Why you need a manager? Why is she calling your desk all the time? Why she constantly sends tons of emails? What does she want from you? The only reasonable answer I could come up with is “she wants you to accomplish your tasks so she could hit her goals”.

Understand you manager’s goals

Do you know you manager’s goals? Clearly understand the goals. Save your manager and you from wasting time and resources on something that is off track to your manager’s goals.

Agree on course of action

Make sure the course of action toward the goals is clear to both you and your manager. There are way more aspects that should be taken into account while trying to accomplish your tasks. Let your manager oversee it. Present your approach, let the manager correct it and then execute it exactly as it was agreed by both parties. Executing exactly the way it was agreed saves your manager from surprises. Managers do not like surprises.

Timely mutual feedback

How do you know you are on track? Feedback is the primarily tool for that purpose. Beg for the feedback. Provide timely feedback to your manager too. Ask for help when hitting road bumps. Help your manager helping you. Agree on timely feedback. Agree on the channel for the feedback – in person, email, or phone. Proactively provide progress status on timely bases you agreed. In case you are late with deliverables – report so, proactively. Do not wait for your manager to ask. She will ask in any case. Be the first one, anticipate. Avoid surprises. Managers do not like surprises.

Get rewarded

How do you know you excel? How do you know you should expect rewards – either vocal or material? Execute to exceed what was agreed during clear goals setting. Stay on track and execute to hit the goals. All that with minimum managerial efforts from you manager’s side. I am sure your manager will be happy to see you doing your job and helping her hit her goals above the expectations. Expect to be rewarded. In case you are not, managing your manager you reward yourself with less micro-management, achieving more with less efforts, getting home at 5 to spend more time with your family.

I’m not the manager because I’m always right, but I’m always right because I’m the manager.” – Gene Mauch

More resources on how to cope with bosses

15 February 2008


  • JD said:

    Nice post!

    I think the most common interpersonal problems beteween a manager and employee are “behavior blindness” and “crossed expectations” — both of which are avoidable with the techniques you outline.

  • blogrdoc said:

    All very good points. I’m a big BIG fan of “achieving more with less and getting home by 5″

    also… this post is good reminder to trim the fat and concentrate on what you are being evaluated on. As a ‘technologist’, I used to waste a lot of time tinkering with stuff at work. It got old when I realized that there was no return on investment from those ‘efforts’.

  • alik levin said:

    Just got home after long long flight…

    @JD – happy you liked the post. How do you avoid situations like “proactive agressive blindness by design”? I am still in search after the solution. Got one?

    @blogrdoc – I’d really like you to be of help when I hit “there is no prophet in his own town” situation once again. You mention few simple but powerful things folks way too often ignore. I used to ignore too. We both used to. Not any more. The problem comes along when you preach this to your mates. There is no prophet in his own town….

  • blogrdoc said:


    I just saw this comment. Do you not have subscribe-to-comment on? That thing was such a pest for me to set up.

    I’ll always be just a few keystrokes away! I’ll hope to be of any help I can. :)

    What did you mean ‘preaching to your mates’? family? Co-workers? friends? us?

    I do understand the phrase the ‘no prophet’ phrase.

  • blogrdoc said:

    I think I just realized what you meant about that. E.g. Just today, I was working with my manager on a scanning electron microscope and I gave him a tip on using it (which I got from some *very* experienced people). He just shrugged it off and didn’t really listen.

  • alik levin said:

    There you go!
    Now, try bringing this very experienced guy in to tell your boss about that. “Suddenly” the boss will realize how brilliant it is, I mean your tip…

    have a look at JD’s post here

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