Advice » In the Workplace» Workplace Issues » The First Person You Have to Ma ...
The First Person You Have to Manage Every Day Is Yourself

The First Person You Have to Manage Every Day Is Yourself

Based on It’s Okay to Manage Your Boss (Jossey Bass, September 2010)

I’ve done hundreds of focus groups with people to find out what gets in the way of their success at work. Predictably, most are factors that are totally beyond the control of the individual, such as:
  • Company policies, rules, regulations, culture and standard operating procedures.
  • The way things have always been done in the organization. 
  • Too much work and not enough time.
  • Too many low-priority activities taking away from more important tasks and responsibilities.
  • Conflict between and among employees that creates a stressful, negative mood.
  • Limited resources.
  • No clear chain of command.
  • Answering to too many people.
  • Various bosses having different standards of performance and conduct, and conflicting understandings of the rules and policies and of what takes priority.
  • Bosses who yell and scream and make things difficult.
  • Managers who don’t make time for one-on-one discussions; do not make expectations clear; do not track performance; or do not give honest, constructive feedback.
Blame, blame, blame. Don’t get me wrong. These are all real challenges that get in the way of your success at work. There is only one problem. When you focus your attention on factors outside your control, you are by definition powerless. If you want to be powerful, then you need to focus on the one factor you can always control: You.

You have limited time, but you can gain enough control of your time to take charge of yourself every day. You can play an active role in managing your part of your relationship with every boss. You can make sure you understand what is expected of you, what your concrete goals are, and what guidelines and schedule you need to follow. You can get your hands on necessary resources or work around a resource gap. You can keep track of your own performance and make work a rewarding experience even if you can’t get the pay and work conditions you’d really like. Ultimately, you can decide how you are going to operate with every single person at work -- from the most interesting and highly engaged coworker to the loudest, meanest jerk.

How? First, make sure the first person you manage every day is yourself. Take good care of yourself outside of work so that you bring your very best to work. And while you are at work, you should be all about the work -- your work, that is. Focus on playing the role assigned to you before you ever try reaching beyond that role. And before you even attempt to manage your boss, you first need to do the following:
  1. Figure out where you fit in your organization or department.
  2. Bring your best self to work every day.
  3. Don’t be a jerk at work.
  4. Be a great workplace citizen.
  5. Get lots of work done very well and very fast every day.
  6. Be a problem solver, not a complainer.
  7. Anticipate and avoid problems.
  8. Regularly assess your productivity, the quality of your work and your behavior.
Focus on controlling you. You cannot ignore all those outside factors that define the context of your situation. But you can control what you can do within the context of your job and work situation.

[Bruce Tulgan is an adviser to business leaders and a sought-after speaker and seminar leader. He is the founder of RainmakerThinking, a management-training firm. Tulgan is the author of Managing Generation X, It’s Okay to Be the Boss and many other books, including It’s Okay to Manage Your Boss. He has written pieces for numerous publications, including The New York Times, USA Today, The Harvard Business Review and Human Resources. He can be reached via email, on Twitter and on Facebook. His free weekly workplace video is available on his Web site.]

Latest Jobs

Prospect Info Systems
Posted: 05/23/2015
Chesterfield, 63017
Posted: 05/23/2015
Hazelwood, 63042
Amplified Digital
Posted: 05/23/2015
Saint Louis, 63101
IOD Incorporated
Posted: 05/23/2015
Houston, TX, 77002
United Rentals Inc
Posted: 05/23/2015
Freeport, TX, 77541

Want more personalized results?  Update Your Profile


Monster Communities

Teaching Community
Where teachers meet and learn.
Create and connect.
Networking for the career-minded woman.
Nursing Link
Where nurses call the shots.
More Monster Communities

Monster Partners

Scholarships, financial aid and more ways to pay for school.
Find top campus and online degree programs.
Military portal for the US Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard.
Financial Aid
Scholarships & financial aid.
Staffing for Government Jobs
Staffing and hiring solutions for federal government agency jobs.
More Monster Partners

Job Hunt Strategy

Six Ways to Make a Recruiter Hate You
If you want to blow your chances with recruiters -- and, by extension, with the companies they work for -- here are six perfect ways to do so.

Resumes & Cover Letters

Rev Up Your Resume to Relocate
Hoping to relocate? Get the ball rolling on landing the right job in the right location with these expert resume and cover letter tips.


100 Potential Interview Questions
Interview questions can run the gamut. You probably won't face all 100 of these, but you should still be prepared to answer at least some of them.

Salary & Benefits

10 Questions to Ask When Negotiating Salary
Most of us aren't natural negotiators, but asking these 10 questions during salary negotiations can help you get everything you deserve.

Employee Sourcing

Alt text
November Monster Employment Index Grows 13% Year-Over-Year, Tenth Consecutive Month of Positive Annual Growth.

For Seekers

Campus and Online Degrees
Advance your career and earn more with an online degree.
Free Salary Wizard
What are you worth? Find out and negotiate a better salary.
Research Careers
Get information on jobs and career paths to help guide your choices
Questions & Answers
Find answers to all your career related questions -- powered by Yahoo! Answers
Resume Distribution Service
Our distribution service puts your resume right in the hands of recruiters.
Resume Writing Services
Our experts will craft a keyword-rich resume that stands out in the crowd.
More Career Resources

For Employers

Career Ad Network
Target your job posting to more candidates on thousands of websites.
Hire Right Background Checks
Explore our background check packages to improve the quality of your hires.
Hiring Home Page
Find the best candidates for your business with Monster hiring solutions.
Job Postings
Find the right solution for your hiring needs. Starting at $99.
Power Resume Search
Monster's new search technology precisely matches people with your jobs.
Resource Center
Find staffing insights, labor trends, HR best practices and more.
Target Post
Connect with skilled, hourly and administrative candidates for only $99.

Social Media

Jobs on Twitter
Find jobs in your area and industry.
Monster Careers
Tune into our career advice and discussions tackling a wide range of topics and industries.
Monster Corporate & PR
Stay up-to-date on the latest news. Get the 'Who', 'What', 'When', and 'Why' on all things Monster related.
Monster Customer Service
Got a Monster question? We've got the answer. Whether you're a job seeker or employer, we can help you find the answers you need.
Monster for Employers
Find advice on hiring.
Follow Us
Check out our many pages and stay connected with the latest industry news, events, career advice and job openings.

Other Links

Monster Company Profiles
Explore companies and get information to guide your career decisions.
Compare Salaries
See how your pay stacks up to others in your field.
iPhone Application
Download the Monster app for iPhone and iPod touch.
Monster Job Seeker Blog
Monster Job Seeker Blog.
Monster Thinking Blog
Monster's Recruitment Trends Blog.
Jobs & Career Resources
Search Jobs:
For Employers: Post Jobs | Search Resumes | Advertise
About Monster | Work for Monster | Advertise with Us | AdChoices | Partner with Us | Investor Relations | Social Media
Terms of Use | Privacy Center | Accessibility Center | Help | Security | Contact Us | Sitemap | Mobile
©2015 Monster - All Rights Reserved U.S. Patents No. 5,832,497; 7,599,930 B1; 7,827,125 and 7,836,060 MWW - Looking for Monster Cable? - V: 2015.8.0.34-219