How To Manage Your Boss So That You Aren't Ridiculously Stressed

Key Point:  Managing up is simple, not easy, but simple!

Have you read Part 1 of this article? -  What NOT do do when managing your boss

Even the most inspiring of leaders can, at times, cause you to feel stressed and discouraged. Can leave you feeling that not only is your boat not being floated - you are on the wrong boat!

Let's take a look at what you can do to make sure that manage both your own and your boss's emotional state.

Tip 1 - Walk a mile in your boss's shoes

Do you know the pressures your boss is facing? Have you asked him/her what stresses/problems/challenges s/he is up against. You may or may not be able to help him/her with any of it. If you can then terrific go ahead and be part of his/her solution.

S/he will love you for it.

If you can't help, at least you'll be more understanding of why s/he is behaving the way they are.

Certainly this step isn't about making excuses for someone who is just downright mean and ornery. However, even bad tempered bosses are human. And, as a client said to me some time ago, "Leadership can be lonely."

Your boss may be showing that bad-tempered side to hide all the fears and frustrations that are swirling around in his or her head like a beating drum.

Taking a few moments to show that you care about his or her feelings, might be the turning point in your relationship.

Think about it for a moment, how do you feel when someone has reached out to you and shown that they have a concern for you? Are you more inclined to think kindly toward someone who cares about you and your success?

As John Maxwell said, "People don't care how much you know, until they know how much you care."

Tip 2 - Let your boss know about your success

This doesn't mean running into his/her office every time you do something. But do make sure that you accurately and regularly communicate with your boss hurdles you've overcome and solutions you've implemented.

I often recommend to my clients to remember that part of their success is making sure that they market 'their' brand. That is, just like companies spend millions of $ marketing their company, so you too need to be a bit more deliberate about marketing yourself (because you are a business!). If you haven't already access the Mindset of a High-Performance Employee program

Tip 3 - Set boundaries

Decide what you are willing to accept and not accept in terms of how your boss treats you. For example, you may decide, "I'm okay with my boss making sarcastic comments, but I will not tolerate her shouting at me" Then get clear what you will do if your boss crosses that boundary.

This can be challenging, but very freeing. You can do anything from saying, "Do you realize that you have (e.g. raised your voice?)" to "Please be advised that I will not tolerate (e.g. you raising your voice at me). I request that you stop right now".

Done well this is often a show-stopper and the person may never repeat that behavior with you again.

Be mindful that this could be a high-risk tip. It will depend upon your circumstances and the type of leader you are working with. If you aren't confident you've got the skills to pull this off, then contact me for one-to-one coaching, because done poorly you could end up in hotter water than when you began.

Having said that, doing nothing is not an option ... unless you are okay with feeling like a victim!

Tip 4 - Understand your boss' preferred communication style

Use a tool such as DISC to identify your own style of communication and then use it to assess your boss' preferred style.

This one thing may be all you need to get your relationship humming. When you are prepared to flex your style so that you can communicate in a way that s/he can 'get' you will rapidly transform the relationship.

I've witnessed numerous leaders and their colleagues shift conflicted relationships in matters of weeks, just using the insights they've gained from the DISC profiles. 

Tip 5 - Take a good long hard look at yourself

In the book Influence Your Way To Success, I help you to understand how we often lay the entire blame for relationship problems at the feet of the other person. When in fact, there is nearly always something we are going that is contributing to the problem.

Even if it is something as simple (but not easy to do), as letting the other person know that they are out of line in the way they are treating you - you are part of the problem. To get awareness around how you might be a part of the problem (and the solution), here are a few questions you should answer:

  • check
    What are you doing/not doing that is contributing to the problem?
  • check
    Are you asking good enough questions when being assigned tasks?
  • check
    Are you communicating to your boss the workload you currently have?
  • check
    Have you avoided informing your boss when something s/he has done has had a negative impact on you?

Tip 6 - Set it on the right tack when the work is being assigned

When your boss is assigning work to you make sure the discussion includes the current workload you have. Order of priorities and dates s/he wants things delivered by. In effect you are managing your boss by delegating up. 

Tip 7 - Manage your emotional state

Make sure that you mentally and emotionally prepare yourself before any interaction with your boss.

Think about your Big Picture (taken from the Planning Sheet in the ebook "Successful Feedback") to ensure that you stay aligned with what it is you do want. That in the moment of choice - you make the choice to act from a place of personal power and not like a victim or a martyr.

Tip 8 - Change your behavior

Try to identify what it is your manager wants more/less from you. Then you can make choices around which behaviors you are willing to modify to satisfy his or her needs and which you'll not shift.

The ones you choose not to change may be a deal-breaker about whether or not you stay in this role. For example, if your boss is requesting that you do something unethical, you may decide that it is time to find a new opportunity. Only you can decide that.

But, should there be behaviors that you decide to shift, practice them for a while then, and only then, ask for your boss's feedback and whether the changes you are making are in alignment with what s/he wants. Big tip, give a couple of examples of where you've tried the new behaviors, the impact it has had on your self and others.  

Don't just go in and say, "Do you think I"m doing better at ....?" You'll likely be disappointed with the response. 

Tip 9 - Get clear about what you want

How much time have you spent thinking about, and writing down, the type of work situation you want. You attract to you that which you give focus to. So be deliberate, and spend some time really thinking about how you would like to be treated at work, what you'd like to achieve, how you'd like to contribute, how you'd like to interact with others.

This is one of THE most important strategies you can practice. You'll find activities in the Mindset of a High Performance Employee program that will help you with this tip. 

Tip 10 - Know you boss's, your team's and your organisation's goals

When you have a good handle on the organizational, team and your individual objectives you can link the impact of his/her behavior on not just you, but it's impact on your capability to achieve those goals. 

It also gives you a framework and context within which you can better understand why things are being asked of you.

Tip 11 - Let your boss know when s/he gets it right

This is often the most overlooked technique when managing your boss! You love it when you get positive feedback right? ... Don't you think your boss does too?

You can do it in such a way that it doesn't feel like you are fawning. If you stick to communicating to your boss the specific behavior that you appreciated, and how it impacted on your performance, it will come across as sincere and appropriate.

Tip 12 - Keep work at work

If you've got a boss that is a bit gnarly it is probably a stressful time. But don't take it home and dump on your family and friends. Instead use your drive home as the time to 'shower-off' the negativity of the day and reframe yourself, so that you walk into the womb of your family filled with love. 

If you've been shying away from managing your boss, you really don't need to. Yes, it can be challenging and can have some risk attached ... however how is it working out for you doing nothing? If you keep doing what you've always done, you'll keep getting what you've always got - right?!

And if you're a boss who could do with some fine-tuning yourself ... take a look at the cost of a bad boss: