Managing your boss effectively

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By Goke Ilesanmi


    Most people get stuck on the ladder of career advancement just because they lack the skills of effectively managing their boss. If you are one of those experiencing retardation in your career despite having the skills required to succeed, you need to review your relationship with your boss. If you know it is not cordial, you need to urgently do something about it. Maintaining cordial relationship with your boss in the workplace is very crucial to your career success. The quality of management may be rapidly declining in today’s corporate world, but the junior workers can do a lot to salvage the situation and enhance their job satisfaction in the process. Your boss holds your future prospects in the workplace in his or her hands. Expect little or no assistance from a boss that does not like you.

Major objective  

 There is no denying the fact that some bosses are hard to please. Some have excellent qualifications but lack people management skills. Bad bosses can frustrate the motivation, creativity, enthusiasm and productivity in subordinates trying to do a good job and earn a just and honest pay. However, it is also necessary to add that it is not all bosses that are like that. But your major objective is to avoid bad relationship with your boss.

Bad relationships with the boss cannot only mean missed advancement opportunities; it is one of the major reasons for high staff turnover. Terri Levine, author of “Stop Managing, Start Coaching” says, “If you resign because of the boss, you may also expect a dent in your professional reputation. Imagine having to provide such an ‘ex’ boss as the contact referral person at your next interview? The relationship you have with your boss can be a major factor in determining your rise up the ladder. Your boss isn’t only your supervisor. He or she is also the person best equipped (or should be) to help you do the job you are paid to do.”

Knowledge of corporate goals

You need to know that your boss knows what the company is looking for in future executives. Your boss can inform you about the company direction that may affect your future aspirations. He or she can be your mouthpiece or mentor if you have good working relationship. This means he or she can help you get all your dues and good things you are not yet due for. Paradoxically, your boss’ success in the workplace also depends on you. He or she needs your feedback in order to provide useful reports to upper management. You can make your boss look good or bad.


But how does this help you establish a meaningful working relationship with your boss? The key lies in effective communication with him or her to understand his or her goals. In the words of Levine, “Learn and understand his/her goals and priorities. What is required of him/her and how can you help him/her achieve that? Observe and understand your boss’ work style. If he/she has not been clear with his expectations, ask!” Likewise, ask for feedback and accept criticism gracefully. And if he or she understands that you are very committed to your assignments, he or she may be more prepared to help you.

Other things

    Try to discover other things about your boss. Try to know if he or she is conservative or liberal; formal or informal. Find out whether he or she prefers to be greeted as “Mr”, “Ms”, “Miss” or “Mrs” or prefers first name. Find out if he or she operates an “open door” policy or prefers that you set appointments first. Experts advise that you should respect your boss’ time. Never burst into his or her office expecting or demanding immediate response. Discover and erase behaviour that would annoy your boss, and never gossip about him or her to others. It always gets back through the office grapevine.

You should know that your boss is a human being and therefore is capable of making mistakes. Colleagues may be telling you that you are too soft with your boss, but disregard their advice and accord your boss the respect you think is due to him or her. Like all human beings, he or she has off days. Some managers are naturals and others struggle because they lack communication and people skills. He or she may not meet your standard of perfection, just bear with him or her.

Winning strategy

Your winning strategy is to consciously work with your boss to obtain the best possible results for him or her, the company and yourself. But how does this work? One way to help your boss is to let him or her see that you are looking at issues from his or her perspective and not just from your own alone. So if your boss is turning down your good ideas because of some genuine reasons, do not get annoyed and take it personal. Ask him or her, what you can do so that your ideas can sail through.


Experts however advise that you should also not be a “Yes man” who offers false flattery in the hope of getting somewhere. They say doing this would not work. They add that you should also not aim for too much closeness in the working relationship because this can also backfire. According to Levine, “If your boss depends upon you too much, he/she won’t recommend you for promotions because you are needed too much where you are.” Experts say another spill-over possibility is that if your boss is not a good manager, he or she may be given marching orders. And if you are seen to be a part of his or her management mishaps, you may be marching out of the door with him or her.

Last words

  Therefore, just be an effective, cooperative, responsible and courteous employee and team player and do what you can to stay in your boss’ good books. It is possible that you are already doing these things, and you are working for somebody whose management style disagrees with your needs or expectations. Maybe friction cannot be avoided. So you need to decide just how important your career path in that particular company is, because if you cannot adjust and work, you may be better off looking for a new job in a new department or company. It is just a fact of life that “bosses will be bosses”. You can lessen the probability that your boss will make bad decisions that affect you, and increase the probability of your job satisfaction by effectively managing your boss. I wish you career success. Till we meet on Wednesday.


NOTE: Those seeking job assistance can now go to the “Links” section of my website and apply for local and international jobs there. Also the duration of the public speaking seminar has been greatly reduced as requested, in addition to other adjustments. You will find the programme on the right side at the upper part of my website. Click on the text and see details. I appreciate your suggestions and requests.


GOKE ILESANMI, Managing Consultant/CEO  of Gokmar Communication Consulting, is a Certified Public Speaker/Emcee,  Communication Specialist, Motivational Speaker, Career Management Coach, Renowned Book Reviewer, Corporate Leadership Expert and Editorial Consultant.


Tel: +234(0)8056030424; +234(0)8187499425

Email:  gokeiles2010@gmail.com; info@gokeilesanmi.com.ng

Website: www.gokeilesanmi.com.ng

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