Coach your boss

Before you punt the ball on your relationship with your boss, consider whether you can gain ground with a little coaching. Then tackle any sore spots with these six strategies.
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Sep 01, 2007



Ever watch the movie Ben-Hur? At one point, the hero, Judah Ben-Hur, is forced to row a warship with the other slaves into battle. It's hot, cramped, and sticky, and—let's face it—these people haven't bathed in a while. The tension builds as the enemy ships come into view. The slaves are chained to their oars and the oarsman pounds out a beat that the slaves must match in their rowing pace. The pounding beat gets faster and the slaves row furiously to keep up. They begin to collapse and fall to the floor, unable to keep the pace—even when there's a whip across their back to force them to keep going. Does this sound familiar? I hope not. But if it does, it's time to learn a few techniques to manage your manager.


Drop the megaphone
Ask anyone who's worked for someone for a while and they'll quickly agree: Nothing compares to a wonderful boss. Several recent studies by the American Management Association demonstrate employees who enjoy working with their bosses are more likely to stick around. Team members who feel ignored, unchallenged, unacknowledged, and taken for granted will typically do just enough to get by—creating a cycle that further distances them from their managers.


Get your ideas heard
We tend to accept, rather than confront, difficult behavior in bosses—and ourselves. Achieving change may seem tough—or even impossible. While it's true you can't control your manager's behavior, you choose how you'll respond. When you manage your manager, you enhance the work environment, increase your success, and reduce your frustration with your boss. Let's look at six solutions to improve your work life.

She's on a different playing field


8 communication tips
Every morning, when Andrea walks into the NoCanTell Animal Clinic, she wonders whether her manager will ignore her. No "Good morning." No "How are you?" No response at all, like Andrea doesn't exist. "Makes me want to go to lunch and see how long it takes her to notice I never came back," she thinks.


Get your boss
Do you see your boss as a person with the same day-to-day problems and personality idiosyncrasies as everyone else on the team? While this doesn't excuse seemingly negative behavior, bosses deserve some degree of understanding that—just like you—they can be distracted from the people around them. However, if this is more than just an occasional issue, it's time to manage your boss's potentially destructive behavior.