July 30, 2013

Think Like a Manager to Help Improve your Career

Young business man standing in the big city and purposefully looking awayWe have all thought at one time or another, and sometimes it is even somewhat true, that the management team at the reigns of our organization really has no idea of what’s going on in the company. In fact, the structure of a conventional organization almost ensures that those at the top are at least partly disconnected from the issues and needs of those on the ground; and if the people that make up the upper echelon of corporate management are incompetent to begin with, woe unto the poor workers that toil there.

But what if the workers on the ground decided to think like a manager in order to better understand why their managers do what they do? Not only can this exercise improve individual insight into the inner workings of an employer, but can be a crucial step in moving ahead in your career.

For starters, it is important to remember that your boss is a person like anyone else. And the odds are high that there is someone to which he or she must report to as you do to your boss. As such, it isn’t unreasonable to assume that your boss’s motivations are probably somewhat similar to your own: to impress, to improve, and to excel. A wise employee will attempt to understand his or her boss in an effort to make  sense can of both the boss’ good and bad decisions. Can you look at your company objectively to see why an apparently asinine project was initiated? Is it because your boss is out of ideas? Is he trying to score some points with senior management? Is she simply trying to buy some time? Attempting to understand the “why” can help lead to the realization that both you and your boss are in the same boat and must rely on each other. That is, when your boss succeeds, you succeed, and vice versa.

Team members should never be lost on the challenges and potential rewards of a project, largely so that they understand what’s in it for themselves, their colleagues, and managers. And while your primary motivation may be to figure out what’s in it for you, it is sometimes beneficial to also think of what is in it for your boss. Why? Because looking at a task through your boss’s eyes allows you to see the world from his or her perspective. And this can help you to know and be just what your boss needs at a given time. That way you can become the star employee with the reputation for delivering results in a crunch.

Consider the following tips to help you switch your perspective to a more global scale:

• Understand the weakest points of the management team and work to identify the root cause of the day’s crisis so that you can swoop in with your ingenious proposal to fill in the idea gap being suffered through by your managers.

• Take the initiative to find solutions to problems that you have yet to be officially called in to fix. Make an effort to anticipate problems so that you can solve them before they become critical.

• Envision yourself and your coworkers as your boss sees you. Try to gain insight into the often complex web of intra-office politics and maintain an advantageous position. Understand what your boss needs so that you can always be the first employee with solutions.

• Engage your boss directly. Asking questions above your station will at least show your interest in the functioning of your organization and potentially show management that you have a greater understanding of the bigger picture and the tools to take on higher-level issues.


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Joshua Bjerke, from Savannah, Georgia, focuses on articles involving the labor force, economy, and HR topics including new technology and workplace news. Joshua has a B.A. in Political Science with a Minor in International Studies and is currently pursuing his M.A. in International Security.