Managing your Boss

An important aspect of almost any job these days is managing your relationship with your boss. This is important if you want good performance evaluations, or are looking to step up to manage a bigger challenge.

Of course, all bosses are like their reports to be adaptable, self confident, proactive, reliable, ambitious, and loyal. But in addition to exhibiting these characteristics, how should you communicate your ideas or proposals to your boss? Here is a technique you can use to help you answer this question.

It’s based around creating a Style Compass. The characteristics on the compass can be anything you like, but they should reflect the characteristics you think are important about the person you are trying to influence:

style compass

You can have as many lines in the compass as you like, but the word you write at the ends of any individual like should be opposites, for example, Big Picture and Detail.

The first step towards using the compass is to map your bosses personality onto to it. You do this by marking two x’s against each axis as shown in the example below, denoting that your boss prefers to focus on the big picture rather than the precise details.

style compass partial

Once you’ve mapped your bosses style on to all the lines of the compass you need to map yourself. Once both you and your boss are mapped to the compass it should be easy to see how you differ in style. In the example below the solid line represents your boss, and the dashed line represents you.

style compass complete

In this example my boss is deductive; he works from the theory and the big picture downwards. On the other hand I am more practical. To get on his wavelength I will need to adjust my style dramatically – paint the big picture of what I am proposing first, and only drive down to the practical detail if he is interested. This is the opposite of how I might by default present an argument, but probably the most effective way to engage and persuade my boss given what I know about his style.

I’ve used this example to show how you can influence your boss, but it can be used to influence any individual. I’d be really interested to hear from anyone who is using the Style Compass technique but for an altogether different purpose. If this is you then drop me an email.