Friday, June 8, 2012

The Boss

“The Boss” is probably the easiest target for snide comments, pre-meditated gossip and murder fantasies in most offices. The term has become so maligned that most companies no longer even use the word. Now we call him “Your Manager”. Whatever term you use, you might find it helpful to know a little bit about him (or her).

First off, don’t forget that there are FEW, if any, schools that teach a person HOW to be a boss or manager. Management is a four-letter word in the business world and it remains one of the great mysteries of our time. Management is not actually that mysterious, but because it involves a few skills that are not specified clearly and that most people are lacking, you might find yourself in the precarious position of having a boss who doesn’t know HOW to be one.

Second, no one, and I mean NO ONE, is ever going to admit that he doesn’t know HOW to be the boss. This is equivalent to shooting off his own arm. Why admit such a thing? A person is successful or starts his own business and becomes "The Boss"! No training required. Or so many people think. Is there anything you can do about this? YES!

First off, realize that management is primarily about control. Control is not necessarily a bad thing, mind you. If you don’t believe me, try making a phone call without controlling the phone. How did that work out for you? Control itself is neither inherently bad nor good, but is constructive or destructive based only on the motive of the person using it. You can be constructive with your control of your phone, i.e., dial a florist and order flowers for the wife, OR you can be destructive, i.e, prank call your boss. It’s your choice how you use the control. The same is true for your boss. He or she has a choice at any moment whether to be constructive or destructive. Decide for yourself RIGHT NOW if your boss (or anyone else who “manages” you) is constructive or destructive. The easiest way is to tell by results. Does the person get positive results with you and others?

Assuming the person is controlling you in a constructive way, realize that most human beings inherently do not like control. But we have to live with it in order to engage in group activities. So let’s assume your boss, like so many of them, is controlling you very poorly. Here is an example: “The Boss” tells you to start on the new social media marketing campaign. You do so. Two days later, “The Boss” comes after you wondering why you are tweeting on behalf of the company! You look bewildered and mutter, “But. . .I thought. . . you wanted me to . . . start the social media campaign. . .” He storms out of the room, telling you to remove all the tweets. Uh oh. Poor control on his part. He didn’t CONTROL you very well. To control is to create positive, predictable change.

So what can you do if your boss doesn’t control you, or anyone else, correctly? Well, you can take charge of the control. It would look something like this. Boss: “Start the new social media marketing campaign.” You: “Sounds good. I’ll have a plan on your desk for approval in two hours.” You type up the plan including all ideas for tweeting, etc., and put it on his desk with only boxes at the bottom where he can check “Agree” or “Disagree” to let you know if he likes the plan. True, it’s a little more work for you. But this is what being responsible looks like. As Ayn Rand said, "The man who lets a leader prescribe his course is a wreck being towed to the scrap heap."

Of course, you can always let the boss continually shift your priorities and complain about it to your co-workers. That’s what most people do. But if you really want to get ahead, try nailing down this control thing by taking your share of the responsibility for it. That way, more than your boss managing you, you are managing HIM!

And if you really want to handle the situation for good, send your boss to management training. You may have to call it something else, like “Jamaica” to get him to go, but if you can pull it off, I promise your life will be much easier. And maybe you can stop fantasizing about the steamroller and super glue . . .