How to manage up whilst making your way up the ‘ladder’

The relationship we have with our bosses can have a huge effect on how much we enjoy our time at work, and in turn, how productive we are. So much so, that when an employee finds themselves reporting into a somewhat challenging and demanding boss, it may have a subsequent impact on their own career progression.

Here, we consider the various types of senior personnel that you are most likely to encounter in the workplace and offer a little advice on how to manage them accordingly.

The Controller

This breed of boss relies on title over earnt respect – and they are most likely to be (unnecessarily) confrontational as a result. They might also be guilty of micromanagement and an inability to ever stop working which might prove frustrating for you, and have an impact on your ability to work autonomously and build on your own confidence.

One tip when managing such an individual is to outline very clearly what you are working on and the desired outcome ongoing. You will likely find that it provides some much needed reassurance for them, as well as a mandate for you to progress accordingly without interference.

Laid back Larry…

There are some positives in a boss who leaves you to use your own initiative and trusts you to get on BUT this can sometimes (often) lead to confusion about what is expected, and you may find that you don’t have the guidance and support you need to help you progress within your own career.

Again, consider putting together a very clear outline of activity planned and hone in on areas where you would like to discuss and seek advice.

If you have regular scheduled internal meetings, make sure they happen; and if this isn’t a structure currently in place it may be worth requesting that you work this way moving forward.

The inexperienced one

This person may have been given more responsibility than they can handle, and they may be difficult to work with as a result. After all, if they lack the experience themselves they might not be confident enough to give clear direction.

Firstly, be clear with regards what your role and responsibilities are. If you feel that you need further guidance and support in order to deliver against your own objectives then be as proactive as possible in seeking this – be that from an internal mentor, or an external training provider.

The very experienced one

Experience is never a bad thing, but once someone reaches a certain level of understanding with regards a role it can be difficult for them to understand where your areas of development lie, and why! Equally, in cases where someone has remained at the same company for several years, they may not be as open to discussing change.

Try not to be put off or intimidated by bosses that fall into this category. If you have an idea, don’t simply hold back but instead present it in a way that demonstrates your thinking and rationale and your own development needs in order to deliver against it.

You will likely find that your boss is secretly pleased to have someone step up and take the reins for once, and over time they will come to trust and value your input and dedicated thought-first approach.

The ideal one

Fair, inclusive and motivating – treat them as they treat you and you’re onto a winner.

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