Hi guys,

First of all, I'd like to congratulate you both on a wonderful podcast. You both do an excellent job in providing fresh, relevant content and deliver it brilliantly. I especially find the format of your podcasts (setting up the content, explain point-by-point, iterate points and explanation of consequences/benefits of each point) extremely easy to follow.

While I'm not yet in a management role, I hope to be in the next 2-4 years and would like to succeed when it eventuates.

My question is this:

I work for a small tech company that has a very flat structure. My boss is the director/founder/owner of the company. We have a weekly production meeting every Monday morning which is just a whip around of what's been done in the past week and what's going to happen in the current week.

The boss is very supportive and allows us to investigate new technologies that might benefit us. However, we don't get a lot of face time with him, no one-on-ones and no chance to openly discuss how we're feeling/what our thoughts are on current work related matters.

I'd like to encourage some of these more formal managerial processes to help myself and some of the other staff losing focus and not having our issues discussed. The boss, however, has had no formal management training (and doesn't listen to your podcast!). How can i suggest to him the introduction into our company of some of your material without coming across as a know-it-all type. The boss in this example is likely to get very defensive/angry OR attempt to water-down the benefits of a suggested solution if he thinks I'm telling him I know better (even though, in some instances, I would) or if he thinks he's incapable of leading such ideas.

There are also times when I'm spoken to by him and others in a manner that I don't appreciate (usually when they're under stress or ). Will the feedback model work when the subordinate is giving feedback to the superior?

Thanks in advance,


MikeK's picture

I'll take a stab at helping here james. 8)

I was in a similar job situation a few years ago and have since successfully taken on a more leadership style of work which led to more responsibility, where now and for the past year, I am a team leader working in my department (we have a software/hardware/manufacturing split). These departments never used to exist and they came out of neccessity for the most part but the leaders in each group were obvious from there actions and general ability to lead!!

I think that is the best things to work on, your ability to lead your peers and the company to some extend!

I would also suggest that you offer to your boss to help him with a few of the matters you could handle (or some challenging areas you feel you can do better at) and hopefully he can allow you a bit of flexibility in doing so. This might be organizing some small groups to meet with you or even some one on one styles to help improve the team, more cooporative than as if you were their manager, but a similar format to improve communication and allow some of your peers to begin to channel some communication through you. This will help to lead more which you definitely gain from as things grow and hopefully your boss will see this happening. (He will if you report more to him!).

I think you would be surprised how quickly you might succeed with more leadership tasks if you simply ask your boss what you can help him do or take of his plate and be responsible for. He doesn't need to agree to making you a manager or leader at this point, but if you can start to do those tasks, the role and title are irrelevent. Lead by example and provide leadership for your peers wherever possible. Your boss will NOT argue with you doing this and it can only help.

One other area that I've seemed to really succeed with is facilitating meetings. If you can learn this well, are never late, do not run over time, and stick to an agenda, I think you will be amazed at the results and how successful others will perceive you at that task. That alone can be a great leadership skill and will improve the results you are getting from your time. If you communicate before you do this what you plan is to your boss and even peers, they will more readily recognize the change and you will appear successful. All of these types of leading by example will help you shine for more responsibility. Title or no title, the work (some of it anyway) can be the same as a manager, with or without being called a manager.

As for the items he says, that you don't appreciate; you can definitely use the feedback model for discussing this with him, you just need to approach him in an appropriate manner. Have a look at this other thread if you haven't already seen it. A few of us had previously discussed this feedback to your boss issue. I think it might help you as well.



MikeK's picture

I missed trying to answer your final question. How to get your manager to adopt some of these things.

I think first you should ask him to! Seems silly right. Not really though, if he simply doesn't know these tools and techniques exist, then you have an opportunity to offer to help improve things with what you know. I don't think you will come across as a know it all, you can simply tell him what you are learning, how helpful it has been and ask him to listen to some and consider trying a few things. If he doesn't want to, ask if you can try them as a mentor or with some more junior people because you believe it will make a big difference. The techniques are not YOUR techniques, you are just suggesting a way to improve the company and that you really want to try some of these yourself and with him if that is possible. This also gives you a chance to work with your manager a bit closer and will help your communication.

I hope your boss is open minded enough to at least look into this. If he hasn't had format training in management, I hope he doesn't think he already knows it all, because that would be much harder to convince him then.

If your boss won't consider your suggestions or let you try to improve things and you don't think you would ever change his mind, then you should probably reconsider your job and try to find a better manager to work for. As you would be dead-ending yourself otherwise.

esanthony's picture


I think Mike has hit on a crucial point for anyone who is not in management yet. No matter what your title you can work on habits that will prepare you for management and more than likely make you stand out among your peers. If you do this in a cooperative manner, as Mike K mentioned, you will impress both your peers and your managers.


ChrisG*son's picture

I agree with what Eric has said, concentrate on yourself!

I'll take it one step further, because I have some experience in addiction recovery, I can see this in the same terms. When someone is newly sober, they start to see addiction problems in everyone else and they want to help. But what they're really doing is avoiding the continued work they need to do on themselves. When you find something great, you may want to tell others to implement it because that's easier than continuing to focus on yourself. (Have you achieved perfection yet?)

I personally would not recommend suggesting this to your boss. He sounds inflexible, or at least insecure. In fact, I would discourage recommending this to anyone. In my case, I went into work one weekend and fully implemented David Allen's [u]Getting Things Done[/u] system. When people came in on Monday, they were amazed at the transformation. My standard reply was that it didn't count for sh*t if it didn't improve my effectiveness, and I asked them to provide feedback in the future.

A number of people have been impressed and asked me about what I was doing. When I tell them, most of them smile and say "wow" and walk away. They're not ready. And no amount of enthusiasm is going to win them over. They think it's great, but they can't see themselves being so "anal," even if it reduces stress. But some of my co-workers ask questions. They've seen the results and they want to accomplish the same in their work. These people are ready.

Disclaimer: I'm still very much a yellow belt in the Tao of Management, but I've found recommending resources is best done once you're generated interest in your results.