Delving into the Mindsets of Managers

Bijumon Jacob, Senior VP & Head - HR, TemenosBijumon is a result oriented Human Resources leader with two decades of experience spanning multinational and Indian organizations.

Are you ready to shake up some old and established beliefs, to question some basic assumptions about your career?If yes, read further. Let us start with a work equation: Your Boss + Your Productivity + Scope for your Development = Career Growth.

This equation is a broader definition of one’s career growth. All factors listed in this equation like Boss, Individual’s Efficiency and Scope for Development together constitute to your success in your career. The weight of all these parameters may vary but we cannot remove anything out of this equation. However, the general perception is that, if your boss is bad, your career is doomed! This is incorrect and this is what we are discussing here. You can influence all these factors, including the Boss.

Decode Your Boss
Bosses hold a larger responsibility and disseminate a different set of duties answering a different set of stakeholders. A reportee holds a sizeable portion of the task that would roll into the Boss’ larger deliverable. Your Boss places a great amount of trust in you and gives away a significant amount of responsibility believing you would perform and accomplish the task. If anyone thinks that his or her bosses are not trusting, it needs reconsideration. The level of trust is reciprocal between a boss and a reportee. One should understand what his/her boss looks for. If we get a clear picture about what he/she looks for in our work, reports, and deliverables, it would all fall in place. This requires attunement to your boss and not appeasement. A smart boss would know who delivers and who appeases. He/she would prefer the former to the latter. At the end of the day, results matter not rhetoric.

Good Manager/Bad Manager:
What is discussed more openly and more often is whether the manager is good or bad based on one’s experience and observation. Both experience and observation are subjective. If a reportee finds his/her boss accepting all requests, answers, and excuses for the reasons like delay in delivery, being late to office and slowdown in the metrics, etc., then the boss might get a 5-star rating. On the other hand, if the boss expects adherence in terms of commitment vs. delivery then he/she might be seen as a strict manager. We should challenge this belief.
•Is not the manager who brings out the best in us a good manager?
•Is not the one who pushes us to expand our limits, a manager we should look forward to work with?
•Are we defining our manager based on our comfort zone?

There is no good or bad manager in corporate. We should ask ourselves whether my manager is helping me grow in my career or not. It is only by challenging one’s capability, can he/she really grow. Moreover, the challenges cannot be dealt from the comfort zone.
Manage Your Boss:
Yes, you read it right. You should manage your Boss. When your manager tells you what to do, you should tell him how it should be done, to meet the intended result. If the boss finds it logical then she may ask you to do it your way. When required you can influence what is to be done too!

The study shows that bosses do not like the ‘Yes Man’ in the team always. They prefer a healthy debate or conflict on an alternate opinion. At times, they may even be looking for an alternate opinion. Do you have a valid alternate opinion? Do not hesitate to voice it out. At most, they might turn it down. Nevertheless, they have already noticed a fixer, a problem solver in you. Next time they may even consult with you before arriving at a decision. If you are proactive in reporting, they may not do a constant follow up. You would save their time.

A manager is a constant reminder for us to step-out of our comfort zone. Whether you like it or not, bosses are here to stay. It is up to you, what you make out of them - a good manager or otherwise.

Be willing to stretch to new assignments. No growth is possible without that hunger. Do not just focus on what is given to you. Studies show that stretch assignments lead to growth. If you stay within your functional silo and refuse to stretch out, you are neither contributing to your full potential nor growing. You would be seen as a risk aversive. On the other hand, do not keep stretching beyond your natural flexibility. You might burn out or even break beyond a point.

What a Manager Dislikes in his Reportee:
A manager maybe empathetic but he also has a business/function to run. He may at times have to tighten the timeline for the sake of work. Roll into him and stand by his side. If you expect him to explain himself to you, you are standing in between him and his work. A manager expects maturity and alignment. Here is the list of things a manager dislikes.
1.The effort just for the sake of appeasement. It would leave you tired and exhausted by the end of the day.
2.Over praising or fake appreciation Do-not attempt flattery. It makes you look silly.
3.Do not go overboard when it comes to loyalty Loyalty should be towards the brand and not towards an individual. When the individual leaves, you may again be looking for a person to show your loyalty.
4.Yes Man/Yes Woman - Managers at times seek an alternate opinion. If you have a valid point, express it than just take down the instruction.
5.Emotional burden - because you would be a dead weight/drag in the team.
6.Mismatch in commitment vs. delivery – Bring in a discipline else all your build will not have the right buy. Perform well so that the results can speak for itself.
7.Do not waste time in gossips. Always a group has issues with bosses mostly driven by lack of capability or pure negativity. It is easier to join this group to be popular but it does nothing constructive for the organization or yourself.
8.Finally yet importantly, if you disagree, tell it on the face. Do not talk behind his/her back.

What Does a Manager Look in You?
Having said what a manager doesn’t like, here is the list of things a manager looks forward to,in his/her reportee.
1.Healthy Conflicts - opinions or alternate perspectives with facts and data
2.An integrator – one who integrates the goals with actions
3.A problem solver by his/her side to run the challenges in the business/function
4.If you do not know, tell it to you manger. It does not make you look foolish. Not everyone knows everything. Even your manager might do the same, express his/her shortcomings to you. This builds trust.
5.Transparent and direct interactions.

Do not study the boss under your subjective light. Working with manager requires some interpersonal relations, some conscious effort, and some time to build trust. A manager is a constant reminder for us to step-out of our comfort zone. Whether you like it or not, bosses are here to stay. It is up to you, what you make out of them a good manager or otherwise.

Own up your career and do not divert the blame on anyone including the boss.