Advice » In the Workplace» Workplace Issues » Take It One Boss at a Time, One ...
Take It One Boss at a Time, One Day at a Time

Take It One Boss at a Time, One Day at a Time

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

Because every boss has his own style, preferences and habits for managing, the best way to maintain a high-quality relationship with him is by establishing ground rules. At the outset of your relationship, have a conversation outlining how you are going to work together. Some corporate or organizational policies may exist to define some aspects of your working relationship. Clarify exactly where, when and how you are going to observe and practice those policies whenever you are working on any tasks or project. Make a commitment to follow these practices and then take responsibility for following through on them.

You also need to discuss some of the broader goals you have for working together, like maintaining certain levels of productivity and quality standards, making a valuable contribution, and achieving measurable results. You might even discuss subtle rules of conduct that are expected of you, such as work hours, attitude, attire and making personal calls at work.

But the most important thing you need to agree upon from the get-go is how you plan to communicate with each other. Make sure you discuss scheduling regular, ongoing conversations about work and confirm the following goals for every conversation:
  • Walking away with a mutual understanding of the goals of an assignment. 
  • Spelling out guidelines and parameters. 
  • Specifying a clear timeline of deliverables.
Suggest that you make a habit of asking each other clarifying questions and discussing step-by-step instructions for any new task. Finally, try to agree that you will each take notes and check at the end of each conversation that you are on the same page.

Your various bosses have different backgrounds, personalities, styles, ways of communicating, work habits, motivations, levels of ability and skill, and accomplishments. Some are more engaged than others. One boss wants to spell out every detail for you, while another boss expects you to figure out everything on your own. To create the best working relationship with each boss, you learn and understand how each boss works and customize your approach for each accordingly.

I’m not suggesting that you cater to the whims of each boss or go happily along with downright bad management practices. But understanding their whims and management weaknesses is not all bad. When you know a boss’s whims and weaknesses, then you have more tools in your arsenal of solutions with that manager. The only way to learn what works and doesn’t with each boss is through those one-one-one management conversations. As you meet individually with each boss, the differences between them will jump out at you. Over time, you’ll be able to tune in to that boss and adjust your approach as needed.

[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

Wilmington Economic Develop Corp & Delaware Community Develop Corp
Posted: 06/30/2015
Wilmington, DE, 19801
InfoSec Delivery
Posted: 06/30/2015
Dallas, TX, 75201
Posted: 06/30/2015
Pompano Beach, FL, 33069
Posted: 06/30/2015
West Des Moines, IA, 50266
Posted: 06/30/2015
Cumming, GA, 30040

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: 2015.12.0.54-203