Learn How to Manage Your Boss

No matter where you work, you report to someone – maybe even to two or three bosses. And whether you think your boss is brilliant or a bore, the fact is that you have to manage the relationship with your boss if you want to advance your career.

Many of us give little thought to managing our supervisors. We do so at our own peril. Supervisors can have a lot of influence over our success in a job and our long-term career plans. Supervisor recommendations carry a lot of weight when it comes to decisions about raises, promotions, training resources and even job references. Why then do we fail to develop positive work relationships with our supervisors?

In the past, the supervisor-employee relationship has been view as one-way, with the supervisor as boss and the employee subservient to their authority. It is better to view the relationship as a partnership involving mutual dependence. Supervisors need the contributions of subordinates, just as subordinates require support and resources from supervisors. Both parties need to co-operate in order to fulfil requirements and achieve goals.

Why do so many employees try to stay out of the way of supervisors and avoid their notice? Surveys indicate, more than 50 per cent of employees list relationships with immediate supervisors as the worst aspect of their job. Sure, there are poor supervisors, just as there are poor employees. However, both employees and supervisors are responsible for creating effective working relationships.

Develop positive working relationships

Employees, consider your immediate supervisor as an important internal customers. Ask yourself, what does my supervisor needs from me? What is the preferred work style of my supervisor? What kind of environment does my supervisor work in and what pressures do they experience?

What does your supervisor expect of you? Use this information to guide and build your interactions. Remember, supervisors are busy people with many demands placed on them. Make good use of their time and resources.

Take initiative

The workplace is fast-paced; it’s smart to take the intiative. Don’t wait for your supervisor to give detailed directions. Instead, show initiative, demonstrate sound judgment and ask questions. Ask your supervisor for feedback and act on the feedback. Most supervisors appreciate the participation of employees in company work activities. For example, participate in meetings, volunteer to sit on important committees and welcome delegated tasks as a way to increase your skills.

Be professional

You create good working relationships with your supervisor by acting professionally. Meet work deadlines and keep your supervisor informed about accomplishments and problems. Be honest and don’t agree to do things if you have no intention of following through on them.

The workplace requires you keep up-to-date about developments in your field and improve your work skills through ongoing learning. Avoid the temptation of becoming a superhero, working solo for long hours with excessive overtime. These behaviours can have negative effects on your family and volunteer activities. Learn instead to become a team player and to strike a good balance between work and family responsibilities.

Be resourceful

Growth requires change. Supervisors appreciate employees that are resourceful. Be creative, share ideas and develop problem-solving skills. Have Plan B on standby, in case Plan A doesn’t yield the outcome measures or standards required.

Flexibility is a worker’s key asset. Practise time management skills and schedule time each week for networking. Know who you can call for help when you need it. Supervisors are looking for self-motivated individuals who are interested in more than financial rewards alone.

The choice is yours

Supervisors can be an advocate or an adversary. The choice is largely up to you. The relationship you develop with your supervisor should not be left to chance. Learn to manage your supervisor by taking initiative, being professional and resourceful. Treat your supervisor as your most important internal customer and offer exceptional customer service. Doing so will enhance your employability skills and increase your marketability.

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3 V’s of Confident Communication

Communication is more than talking. It’s a two-way process of sending and receiving messages: verbally and nonverbally. Communication is vital to personal success. Now matter how much you know about communicating,

Communication

Communication (Photo credit: P Shanks)

there always seems more to be learned.

At its most basic, your message has three main components: visual, vocal and verbal. To improve your communication style, choose one skill to practise daily and after a while it will become natural.

Visual

1. Eye contact – increasing eye contact makes listeners feel you are interested in them and genuine about the subject you are comminicating.

Practice

    : In your next 5 conversations, notice where you look and how long (should be 5-15 seconds) or ask someone to evaluate or video tape you.

2. Facial expressions, gestures and body movements – make up over half of the message you are communicating.

Practise

    : Notice in your next conversation how much impact different body movements have on the person you are communcating with. Example: Try standing with your arms crossed, leaning back against a wall with a frown on your face. Does this get any different response than standing with your arms bent and your body leaning slightly forward smiling or nodding as the person is talking?

3. Active Listening – show genuine interest in the person talking and listen in the way you would expect them to listen to you. Watch for signs that indicate a change in mood or their loss of interest.

Practise

    : Paraphrase what someone has said to you to be sure you understand the meaning. Ask questions to get further details.

Vocal

1. Tone of voice – make it match your message. If you are talking about a sport you are passionate about, a monotone voice would not be appropriate. Add enthusiasm and emphasis to parts of your conversation.

Practise

    : record your voice and evaluate where more emphasis or feeling may be added.

Verbal

1. Word choices – words only carry 7% of the message, but choose them carefully as sometimes they have different meanings. Example: Betty never thought much of it when she told her husband, “I’m at Sandy’s, we’re having hot dogs for dinner,” until her husband showed up at Sandy’s with hot dogs in hand. She realized he had interpreted what she said differently than what she intended. Use words that are specific to the points you are trying to make.

Practise

    : make list of words used that could be interpretted more than 1 way.

2. Use “I” messages – take ownership and send clear messages about how you feel about something. “I” messages are a description of what you say, do and hear. Avoid accusatory remarks like “you never listen” or “you’re so messy”. Instead, express how the situation makes you feel.

Practise

      : Consciously make an effort to start sentences with “I”.
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6 ways to maximize your talent with motivation

Everybody loves it when the underdog wins. The theme crops up regularly in movies: whether  or the latest version of , something feels right about a group of misfits pulling it together for an eleventh-hour victory over the perennial champs.

We love these stories because they make us believe we have potential to be winners, regardless of how we feel about ourselves at the moment. The fact that underdog stories are not reserved for fiction, but play out in real life, heightens our perception that we could become winners, if we just knew how.

Bad News Bears

Image via Wikipedia


Motivation is often the only difference between winners and losers. You see two equal teams competing, playing with similar skills, and having breaks and mistakes on both sides. Yet one team wins. What is the difference? Motivation!

If you want the edge that makes a difference in your , you’ve got to use motivation to get the most out of your skills. Here are some practical tips to maximize your motivation:

  1. Know what you want – If you don’t have a clear idea of what you’re trying to accomplish, you’ll never get there. The person who complains about lack of success, or more frequently, the “unnatural” success of others, is often sitting around, waiting for something to fall in their lap. Winners know what they want to achieve and set the steps to get them there.
  2. Record your progress – Don’t scrub your to-do list every time you mark a task completed. Use those check marks to remind you of the progress you have made. In turn, the record can push you forward to new accomplishments.
  3. Use rewards – There’s nothing quite like recognition to bolster your self confidence and motivate you to continued success. When you receive recognition, or are rewarded by others, hang on to those as reminders of things you have done well. If your current project doesn’t come with external rewards, create some for yourself. Use rewards to mark milestones and motivate you into the next phase.
  4. Challenge yourself – Don’t be content to merely repeat last year’s success. Athletes don’t limit themselves to winning championships, but are constantly looking for ways improve their personal best. Whether it’s adding to current skills or completely re-inventing yourself, personal challenges can motivate you.
  5. Think positively – The power of positive thinking may seem like a cliche, but it works. William Hazlitt said, “If you think you can win, you can win. Faith is necessary to victory.” Negative self-talk is going to get in the way of your success. Surround yourself with the things that will help you think positively.
  6. Remember the why – Remind yourself of the reason for your current undertaking. Why are you trying to be successful in the endeavour: to bring financial security, to create a good life for your family, to help someone in need, to see your name in lights or engraved on a trophy? All these are valid drivers and revisiting them from time to time will motivate you to go forward.

Bill McCartney, a former head coach at the University of Colorado said, “All coaching is, is taking a player where he can’t take himself”. The greatest coaches don’t necessarily have all the greatest athletes, but they know how to get the best out of the team. The greatest personal successes don’t come from people who have all the talent, but from those who know how to maximize their talent through motivation.

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