I work directly for a manager who has three other directs under him. I have worked 6 years for this manager.

Though he is just down the hall, our communications are almost entirely adhoc. After the first year during the annual performance review, when he asked what could he do better, I suggested "regular" structured staff meetings. He informed me that "he was not a very good manager" (no kidding) and laid other self depreciating remarks on me about his ability to manage. This happens every performance review.

You got it, the manager is strictly task oriented and loves to be busy doing the same type of work his directs do. In fact this year I counted 29 projects that he should not be doing and instead should have been delegated down to us directs.

He has started doing staff meetings but they are pretty poor and then just stop, without notice, until I bug him about it at the performance review and they start up again and stop.

This years performance review is coming up and I anticipate the same pattern. I don't think I want to lay the O3 thing on him for him to instigate with all directs. I am looking at trying a new tactic and that is requesting that [i]I schedule weekly one on one's with him.[/i] I am thinking that by modeling that, he may see the value and apply it to other directs too.

The awkward aspect is that I am going be managing the manager and the one on one will be coming from me, note format and all, so the skill will be in getting him to take the lead aspect over.

I am sure there are folks who have similar situations. Comments?

jhack's picture

It's unclear from your post how your group fits into a larger organization, so there's some guesswork here.

You can't "manage your boss." You can't schedule O3's with your boss. You can only schedule meetings (ie, you can't manage the agenda).

What is the real problem here? Is performance suffering from a lack of coaching? Are you being held back in your career? Is there a retention problem?

Think about the end state: how would you like things to run and why? Reframe the problem.

That said, consider: Why not offer to take on some of his adminstrative duties? You can "facilitate" the staff meetings. You can put project status meetings (or operational review meetings or whatever) in place and then brief your boss weekly. Maybe there are other things you can do to move toward your desired "end state" without changing your boss.


ktnbs's picture

Thanks hjack, for the comments.

Yep, the reality is I cannot change the boss and admitedly I have tried many times. Fortunately the atmosphere is pretty relaxed (too relaxed) so one can be up-front with the boss with scarce fear of direct recriminations.

I work in an acquisitions department with one supervisory-head, the boss. Below him are four directs with four others working for two of the directs. That makes a total of 8 in the department. Four are remote, including one of his directs, and four are in same office with three being directs. He in turn works for an operations manager who has three other departments of similar size. Unfortantely the operations manager is not particularly skilled either. The operations manager works for the head of the organization.

As one of the equal directs, my perception is the other directs would not take to me organizing project status meeting very well!

A few years back one of my suggestions, knowing the lack of regular effective communication, was for all of us directs to publish a work status sheet weekly. This, however, has further taken the place of face to face communication much to my chagrin. It is just a snapshot of current projects with comments. The most significant feedback my boss has given me on them aside from he "likes them" was to move my margins more so he can three hole punch them!

RichRuh's picture
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[quote]As one of the equal directs, my perception is the other directs would not take to me organizing project status meeting very well!

Maybe, or maybe not. What do your co-workers think about your boss's communication style? They may want more feedback as much as you do.


sklosky's picture


I actually do something similar to what you mention. I have scheduled a weekly communications meeting with my boss. We go over operations, opportunities, etc. I try to understand his goals (I'm pretty sure there's a cast or two on figuring out your boss' goals) so that my actions align with his. In my case, my boss is very flexible, I write up the agenda and he adjusts it so that we cover topics he needs covered.

Also, when we get on the topic of how my directs are doing, I mention O3s, coaching and feedback (and sometimes delegation). When he has time and is not engrossed in something else that's eating his cycles, we talk about the details of these tools.

The whole setup seems to work ok. No feedback to the contrary. :)


jhack's picture

Still not clear: what is the problem? Almost everyone wishes their boss were better. What goals are not being met because of your boss' behavior?

Are you frustrated with lack of advancement in your career?
Is your team not performing well?
Is revenue insufficient, or costs too high?
Are projects delayed due to poor communication?

Once the problem is clearly articulated, you can ask: how can I help improve the situation?


WillDuke's picture
Training Badge

I'm with John, identify a problem before you try to solve it.

If he has told you that he's not a great manager, he has opened the door to point him to Manager Tools. Point him here.

Give a listen to the Administrative Assistant cast. If it's appropriate, offer to do some of those things for him. I rely heavily on my admin. She keeps me on track all the time. I'm a better manager because of it.

I think it's completely appropriate for you to offer to facilitate meetings. He runs them, but you facilitate. That means you help him out by creating an agenda for him ahead of time. Enough ahead that he can change or add to it. During the meeting you run the clock, keep everyone on track during the meeting, and take notes. Again, it's his meeting, you're just facilitating. M&M suggest this approach in their meetings casts.

These types of things HELP your manager. They're the kinds of things a manager can delegate. So offering to do them is fine.

But still, what is the problem? You really need to clarify that.