OpinionsBow and ArrowManaging the managers

Managing the managers

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The statement “The boss is always right” is common. But is he, really? This corporate mantra is one of the commonest among working people, and hardly are there people who may not have heard or overheard this statement.

Because of this, it is said that there are only two rules to follow in managing bosses: Rule 1.The boss is always right. Rule 2. If the boss is wrong, see rule no.1.

Bizarre as it seems, we find those two rules being practiced by many managers and owners of businesses. Many workers also observe these rules.

This is one of the many problems about the spectrum of bosses. There are so many kinds of nasty bosses or managers who are difficult to manage.

Looking deep into this observation, this puts the workers on a “damn if you do-damn if you don’t” situation. Workers are at the losing end in an economic relationship between employers and employees.

We know the boss cannot be right all the time because any boss, as a human being, commits mistakes — to err is human.

It’s also true, however, that they have the power to conceal their own mistakes as well.

Resignation is always an option. Not all work environments suck. Not all managers are subjective, manipulative, and favorite-playing bucketheads, and it is difficult to begin to excel at our job if we put much energy into worrying about game-playing at work.

Nowadays, however, finding work in not easy. Self-employment is an option but may be difficult for people who are wired to believe that we need to be employed after graduation, and that employment is always with an employer outside of ourselves or families.

I believe that a relationship between our bosses should be built with a philosophy in which we “agree to disagree” and can still work without wanting to slit each other’s throat.

Respect must be gained first for respect to be given. Mere talk about our good work and our successes will not take us far. “What you see is what you get” is the policy of many bosses.

Let us not live in past glory but learn to “walk the talk” through our good work, displaying that we are well- informed and successful at whatever we do.

Ensure that our good work does not escape the eyes of our boss as at time one must “blow one’s own trumpet”. After the person over us sees that we are not just a temporary success, he is most definitely going to at least give us an ear for voicing our opinions.

We all started at some level lower than where we are at today in our jobs. Inevitably, the number of bosses that we must have had must be more than the number of colors in the rainbow, and each one unique in his own right.

You would have had the ill fate of having the “control freak” boss who loves to listen to his own voice, and is his biggest fan. Every word uttered from the bosses’ mouth is gospel truth. Sometimes you might have felt that if they only could, they would even dictate how much air you should breathe. All because by virtue of being the boss, he is “always right”.

A number of suggestions have been put forth to confront self-righteous managers.

When you take a proposal to your manager, and he dismisses you saying he’s always right, go, and do exactly as he says. If he’s truly right, then you better admit it, and stay quiet.

But if his judgement turns out to be wrong, and just a sign of his over-confidence, then ensure that he realizes it by presenting to him the results as it is saying, “Here, this task was done per your guidance.”

This way he himself will not repeat that he is always right. Just ensure to catch him taking the wrong decision and then display the consequences in front of him.

Only when his lack of judgement, and lack of proper decision-making ability is made visible will he stop saying that he is always right.

This is acceptable in a western setting, but not for Asian or Filipinos in particular.

There are many ways, however, of managing nasty bosses. If resignation cannot be an option, then we have to look into the some of the strategies which I tried, and were successful most of the time.

Since the time of DOLE Sec. Blas Ople, I have had several bosses of different shapes, color, and origin but most of them favor workers who are good at what they do, save organization’s resources, and make a good name for the office. Of course, the corrupt and the mediocre were always looked down.

Most of them also wanted us to be successful leaders that most problems were solved before bringing them to their attention. We must be sources of good and bad news but they should be given the opportunity to broadcast to the public the good news. The underlings may handle the bad news.

I studied what is really important to them, and learned their expectations from me. We may abhor cockfighting (cruelty to animals) or may not be able to buy the golf paraphernalia, which are favorite hobbies/sport of our bosses but we can study gamefowl breeding, and read golf books to have an interesting chat with them.

Some of them were not expressive, and did not give open appreciations but we could see their appreciation from their body language, and tried to get indirectly feedback on our performance.

Volunteering for difficult and unwanted assignments is also a good strategy. You will never lose. If you fail, they will pity you, and sometimes feel guilty of putting you into difficult situations. Failure in easy assignments is a “double jeopardy”.

When I served as executive assistant to three regional directors, I did not ask for unnecessary guidance in my work. When you are asked to call somebody, do not ask from your boss the name of the office, telephone number of the person or the location of the telephone directory. I always practiced CSW — Completed Staff Work, as popularized by President Fidel Ramos.

There is a saying that says: “Do not hurt the king, kill the king!” and “Do not wear a pair of shoes more shiny than the shoes of your boss.”

I memorized them word for word, and observed them to the letter.

We should not openly support the nemesis of our boss unless we are sure that he will win. We should not appear more intelligent or knowledgeable than them. If we have good ideas, we should discuss with them in private, for ownership sake. Most of them want that good ideas are known to have come from them.

We should also not correct, disagree, nor debate with them in public.

Yes, there are two rules is managing bosses:

1. Figure out what the boss needs;

2. Give the boss some of what they want and need, without compromising yourself or your integrity.

Is this being sipsip? I don’t think so as long as what we are doing is not illegal nor immoral.

________________________________

Author’s email: [email protected]


 

 

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