I have a young boss who is the son-in-law of the owner. He was appointed two months ago. During that time, he would flex his muscles by giving instructions that are either vague, illegal, or sometimes downright stupid. I love my company and I don’t have any plans of moving out. Please advise me on what to do. — Perplexed.
A preacher came to Sunday breakfast table with a small cut on his cheek. His wife asked him what had happened. He replied he was concentrating on his sermon for that morning while shaving and accidentally cut his face. His wife said: “Next time, you should concentrate on your shaving and cut your sermon.”
There are certain things you should concentrate on as an employee. First and foremost, you must have the credibility of a loyal and hardworking person with consistent above-average work performance. As a worker, your primary focus is how to top your past performance rather on concentrate on the performance of other people, including your boss.
Your credible performance must come before you can do anything. Otherwise, whatever you do and say will mean nothing to people, and much less your boss.
That’s what most people tend to forget. At times, people like you adopt a defensive approach to hide a poor track record. Therefore, before doing anything, take stock of what you’ve done to give yourself a clear identity as a loyal and hardworking person.
That way, it should be easy for your boss to hear what you’re about to do and say. But remember that having a solid track record cannot be accomplished quickly. It’s a slow process. Assuming that you have a solid track record and you want to manage your boss, then explore the following general tactics:
One, learn and relearn the expectations of your boss. There are some bosses who want to be kept informed about almost everything. Many of them are detail-oriented, while others will be satisfied with a verbal report, if not a one-page summary of what you’ve done. If you have a detail-oriented boss, then be patient and do what he’s expecting you to do.
That’s typical of young managers who are new to the job. Sooner or later, he will realize his mistakes and may eventually change his management style the moment he can’t perform his own assignments.
Two, offer an alternative solution to the boss’s ideas. But first, feel him out: “Sir, I think I have a better idea. Would you like to hear it?” A rational person will always be open to other ideas, even if it means abandoning his own ideas. Just the same, be diplomatic in offering a counter-proposal. If you can soften the blow, it would be easy for your boss to accept it.
Last, look for ways to make your new boss look good. If you do, you will be seen as a reliable subordinate and a team player. If you can do this on a regular basis, chances are, you will be seen as reliable. To do this, go the extra mile in explaining the details of your work. This gives your boss enough reason to appreciate what you’re doing.
What is routine to you may be unfamiliar to your new boss. If you are known to fully support your boss, who can be against you? Besides, it would be difficult to go around your boss for any approvals required by higher-level managers. If this was being done in the past, avoid it at all costs. Run everything through your own boss unless he tells you what to do. Otherwise, it would be disastrous to undermine your boss’s authority.
If you succeed with these three strategies, your boss would find it difficult to act like a bully. Just the same, if he happens to argue like a bully, your best approach is to calm down. Stand your ground. Let him know that you can’t be intimidated. This works against any office bully who thinks that anyone can be easily manipulated.
Whatever happens, protect your flanks. As much as possible, document everything, including his verbal instructions, which you can record by summarizing your understanding through email or text messages.
Look for days when things are going well for your boss so you can approach him with confidence to discuss controversial topics, including your promotion or pay increase.
ELBONOMICS: Never underestimate the ability of your boss to do stupid things.
Anonymity is guaranteed for those who seek it.