MANAGE YOUR BOSS-Learn the Art, this book, is all about managing your Boss(es) all the time and most of the time in your career. You need this skill, ability, and trait in all stages of your career, be it in the beginning, middle, or end of your career. If you succeed in managing, say, 60-70% of Bosses in your career, let me assure you that you will make a mark on your career irrespective of the industry, domain, or department you will work in. This book will take you through the variety of Bosses we come across in our professional lives, their positive and negative traits, and how you manage all of them. With this perspective, let me unfold the relevant aspects to you in detail.
As you step into the last stage of academics, Campus placement and a hunt for a job is the uppermost concern in your mind. All of us look forward to working in a sector, which is of our interest, depending on our upbringing or background, qualification, and skill sets.
Within a sector, a company, the domain you work in is equally relevant to start your career. Within the domain, the choice of the department also makes sense.
We all know that few people achieve this aim to get the first job that they want. The percentage of people achieving this will be limited to a single digit. This number is just a guess and estimate and not based on a study of any kind. In case you disagree with the number, it is perfectly fine with me. Not everyone is blessed to get to work in an area of his choice or interest. But then, if you get the domain or department you love to work in, if you get to do what you enjoy, work becomes your passion, and you are on a joy ride in your professional life. Your dream fulfilled, now starts the journey of your career. All is set for you to achieve whatever you dreamt.
An interesting post about this aspect of not finding a relevant job after academics appeared in social media recently. She, being a petroleum engineer from UPES, Dehradun, with 3.12/4 CGPA, could not get a proper job in the Oil sector for 7 years. She survived in other jobs in the IT sector, a totally unrelated area, but continued her search for the dream job. Ultimately, she did find her dream job in the Oil sector, in the domain of her liking. She writes that my real career has started now after a gap of 7 years. In the intervening period of her finding the job she wanted, her efforts to remain updated in the sector and domain continued unabated.
Most of us end up with whatever the first and reasonable job we get. I come from a very humble background, and the pressure to relieve my parents from financial stress was always at the forefront. Digressing a little, I had no clue whatsoever, like my many other colleagues, about something called an X factor. The X factor here is the domain area where you excel with your abilities , skills and competencies or the areas which interest you the most.
Some start loving whatever they get as the first job and make the best of it. I got into the oil sector not by choice but by chance and finished my entire career in the Oil sector, which subsequently expanded to the gas and petrochemical sector. I grew along in this domain. In our times' academic domains were generic and not specific, as is the case these days.
Many of us who are clear and focused about our X factors continue to hunt for the right job until we get it. Your professional carrier is a long journey, a solo journey, riding through hours, days, and years, year after year.
You will encounter many failures along with lot of success. You will flourish; you will flounder. There will be highs and there will be lows. There will be times when you need the company you work for, and there will be times there when your company will need you. There will be pulls and pressures. Careers are marathons. You will just keep running all the time, most of the time. You may get time to slow down for a while to catch your breath or sip some beverage to rejuvenate yourself.
Every career is unique. Careers are lived forward and understood backwards once you are done with it. Like now, I am crystal clear about the mistakes I made in not making the right moves. I let the beautiful opportunities pass me due to sheer ignorance or not wanting to move out of my comfort zone. There are no foolproof formulae to progress in your career. As you move along, you will need to negotiate the market conditions, industry atmosphere, economic headwinds, and many other competitive concerns.
But hold on, there is much more to look out for. You will be interacting with many people in person, face to face like your colleagues, juniors, and seniors within and across different departments. Be aware of the company within the company you choose to keep. Every company has a different set of people depending on their skill sets, qualifications, and background. Now within the company, which is your dream company where you want to work, it is significant that your company within the company is equally important as you will understand; over a period of time that rub-off effect of the people in your company is always there. You will become the average of the five people you work with over longer durations.
The next significant part is the person you are going to work under, yes, the BOSS. Irrespective of the trade you will work in or develop your expertise in a particular domain, you will have to report to someone for all your work, day after day, month after month, till you change your job or relocate. In new job also, you would be reporting to someone new. We all call him Boss. All of us have a boss in professional life irrespective of your position in the hierarchy. A CEO, the highest level in any organization, reports to the company's board, and the board is answerable to the shareholders. You cannot escape this relation.
A professional career is akin to travelling on a bus or train for a long journey. Consider the driver of the bus or the train you are travelling in, as your boss, who also changes after each destination, while you continue to ride. Some drivers are reckless; some are safe, some are well trained, some know how to drive and take the risk . Few know how to efficiently negotiate the bends, speed breakers, and potholes without any discomfort to you as a passenger. Choice of what speed at what time and under which road conditions is entirely up to your boss. You reach the destination with all the associated memories of comfort, discomfort, pain, fun, joy, fear, and many other emotions. The destination here is the end of your career or when you hang up your boots for the next innings which is not what you have been doing in your professional life of a few decades.
During my long career of four decades, I had the pain and pleasure of working with at least two dozen bosses directly and many more indirectly. I worked under all kinds of bosses at extreme ends of likes and dislikes and in between on the traits such as:
|10. Close-minded & open-minded|
|11. Quality of thoughts|
|13. Individual vs team thinking|
|14. Visionary vs tactical views|
|15. Commitment par excellence|
|16. Abdicating or delegating responsibility|
|17. Solo artist vs team player|
|18. Clock watcher vs hard worker|
In a long professional career, a Boss - and the role played by an individual as a boss has a significant impact on one’s career. Your growth, both personal and professional; your success, happiness, network, skill sets, and family atmosphere will largely depend upon your relations and the time you spend with a particular boss.
Boss is an often-discussed topic in the peer group or friends’ circle. Boss is a much liked and hated person, including you as a Boss. Be mindful. In the truest sense, the customer is the real boss as your growth, and our business success comes directly from him. The customer is the most important person for any business, but in actual practical life, something else happens.
Back in the 1980s, A very prominent multinational company held an employee conference to announce its new “core values”. Number one on the list was the simple statement, “The customer comes first.” That evening, the division executives discussed the company value statement over dinner. One brash young rising star, a fellow, named Monty, proposed a toast. “I just want you to know”, he began, “that the customer does not come first.” Monty pointed at the president of the division. “He comes first.” He named the European President. “He comes second.” He named the North American President. “He comes third.” Monty rattled off four more senior executives of the division, all of whom were in the room. “The customer,” he concluded, “comes eighth.” A stunned silence overtook the room before one of the executives smiled, and the gathered group burst out of hysterical laughter. It was the first truth spoken all day.
Barring few exceptions, it is an absolute truth even today for most companies, that customer may not come first. The Boss is the king. Take care of him. Rest everything will be taken care of, including appraisals, travel, promotion, transfer, and prize posting etc.
Whenever hierarchical boss gets a higher priority than the customer, the companies go downhill on a path of self-destruction. Be on the right side of your hierarchical boss and accelerate all your learning from the customer as the true boss. This attitude can make a difference in your career. Debate in the corporate world continues whether: Customer-First and Employee Second
Different bosses may have a different take on the above critical parameters and may change continuously depending on the events or circumstances or targets for delivery, and whether they are challenging, are achievable, or not. Irrespective of the above two, the Boss stays a priority, to be handled and managed with care.
You may not be able to choose the boss you wish to work with but consider yourself extremely lucky and blessed if your boss also acts as a coach. It is easy to be a critic or a cheerleader. It is harder to be a coach. The critic sees your weakness; the cheerleader sees your strength; the coach sees your potential. We all know of quite a few of celebrated coaches who have produced outstanding sportspersons or athletes.
While the choice or selection of boss is not in your hand, you will choose a role, or you will be assigned a role in your job depending upon your interests and skill sets. It is much later in your career when you have developed the expertise that you may have the luxury of choosing the person with whom you wish to work. How nice it would be if you could select your boss. Would it not be even nicer if you could change your boss as often as you wish? How great would it be if you get the boss of your choice as per your desired standards or traits such as:
|2. Risk-taking ability|
|3. Concern for the team|
|4. Passion for excellence|
|5. Ability to innovate|
|7. Straightforward and above all|
Some one with perfect professional and personal integrity.Be aware that you are neither of that mettle nor there exists a person with all these qualities in him. So, stop hunting for an ideal boss; feel lucky if you get one of the bosses, with, say few of the above attributes. We shall discuss this in detail in next few chapters.
As you step along your career, you’re going to face multiple bosses of different kinds, different characters, different attitudes, different professional standards, some with exceptional abilities, some with no ability at all because many people go up the ladder not by fair means, not on merit, but by manipulation. The manipulation can be political; it could be through some source. However, such people do not last long in the position they hold.
It is a given that you can’t select your Boss, you can’t choose your Boss, but if you find a boss who is not up to the mark, it is up to you to decide what to do after that. There are many options to tackle such a situation where you do not get the boss of the qualities you wish to have. One extreme choice is to quit the job and look for an alternative job may not be always possible. The next option is to change the department or change the location where you work. That also has lots of difficulties and inherent disadvantages if you have a commitment to a place or a city or some needs of your family. This choice is also not exercisable quickly, and therefore you need to figure out alternate solutions.
One solution which is workable most of the time unless it is an extreme situation, is to manage your boss. If you develop this art or trait, let me assure you that you would have conquered half of the obstacles in your career growth. If you can develop the trait right from the day you step into corporate corridors, let me once again repeat to assure you that you are on the right path to grow, grow fast, and grow in the right direction. You will grow at the speed of your boss or faster than him.
Let us now delve into various aspects of this vital and most crucial relationship in professional life, i.e., Managing your boss. While the book deals with managing your boss, it also simultaneously reflects how you assess yourself as a boss on different parameters.