More weight has been thrown behind the old adage that we don’t leave companies, we leave bosses: this recent study of 4,500 Danish public-sector workers shows it’s not excessive workload or pressure that cause employee depression; rather, it’s the environment, particularly the feeling that one is being treated unfairly by their managers. With most of the workforce currently disengaged at work, it seems that this is the right time to take control of the situation. Now is the time for employees to start managing upwards — or even remote controlling their bosses.
Here are four ways to influence your boss’s behavior — or, as I call it, “remote control” your boss.
1. Get Your Boss to Notice Your Achievements
A lot of bosses are tuned in to all of their employees and pay attention to staff achievements, but many others don’t have the time or are simply negligent. If this is the case, staff achievements may go overlooked, which is demoralizing.
Get your boss to notice your achievements by tracking your achievements in a file that shows the task, the action, and the outcome. Use numbers, statistics, and dollar values when possible. After recording your achievements, communicate your most notable ones to your boss, perhaps during a weekly/monthly progress update. If you don’t have a regular meeting already in place, then set one.
2. Give Your Boss Credible Solutions to Problems to Encourage Action
Are there obstacles that prevent you and your staff from being able to work effectively, like a lack of training or inefficient software? If so, this can leave staff feeling demoralized.
Can you suggest a solution to your boss that they might not have thought about? Doing so might be the nudge a boss needs to act. You’ll get brownie points for spotting the problem, and you can encourage the department to move in a direction that is more agreeable to you.
3. Be Proactive About Agreed-Upon Goals
One of the easiest ways to end up over-worked and under-appreciated is to work toward unrealistic goals. Don’t let your boss assign you unrealistic goals. Always be prepared and proactive during goal-setting meetings. See them as negotiations between two adults.
If you don’t feel the objectives your boss sets are realistic, explain why. Use specific rationales and negotiate for additional support, reduced requirements, or whatever it takes to make the goals realistic. If you go into your goal-setting meeting with a positive, realistic attitude and supporting information, you will be surprised by the amount of control you can have over your manager, goals, and workload.
4. Set Your Own Goals
Has your manager been too busy or neglectful to set goals for you and your team, leaving you to work aimlessly? Seize the opportunity and set your own well-reasoned, achievable goals and take them to your manager.
Plenty of managers will be relieved that you have taken this work off their plate, and if you are lucky — or you have prepared the goals well — you may simply get to assign your own achievable goals with minimal interference from your manager, giving you peace of mind.
Even if your boss is making your life very hard, don’t succumb to the victim mentality. There are plenty of steps you can take to manage upwards and remote control your boss, improving your predicament.
I’d love to hear any tips you have for managing upwards!