Introduction The Art of Managing the Boss cannot be taught. A few ideas may be from some experts. Yet, the real world is a perfect laboratory for any type of learning. The best lessons can always be learned from observation of successful experiences. In this connection, there are two types of bosses. One is the eccentric bosses. And then we have the autocratic bosses. Both the types of bosses are not only unhealthy types, but they also stifle dissent and never allow anyone to develop even to a small extent. In this article we will focus on a) Who are eccentric and autocratic bosses b) The Art of lying low and getting things done c) The Art of shutting up d) Isolating and keeping away from informers and e) Looking ahead for greener pastures.
Who are eccentric and autocratic bosses The eccentric bosses are those who behave if they know everything. They are, in fact, half-baked cakes and do not know anything in full. They will read up a small part of an article and lecture about it to others as if they had read not one but at least ten articles on the subject!! They are very rigid what they do and are good at pleasing the big bosses. They normally have one powerful Godfather in the Corporate Office who defends all the weaknesses of such eccentric bosses. If the boss is related to someone in Management, their behavior becomes even more eccentric. They punctuate their sermons with phrases like "now repeat whatever you have understood", making the subordinates very much irritated.
The autocratic bosses are "no-nonsense" men. They are never eccentric. They are simply the "take- my-orders-and-just-do-it" types. They generally do not pass the buck to their subordinates if something goes wrong. They are quite happy when things are done at the minimum cost possible. They also have a very tight leash over every single paper that has some note and will take even the smallest decisions themselves. However, they always have at least one informer and will keep a big tab on the movements of subordinates. This can sometimes even extend to their personal lives. To the most loyal subordinates, they will go all out of the way to give them special increments. However, the development of subordinates stops at some point. They never welcome competitors whose performance is very good, even if he or she is a subordinate.
The Art of lying low and getting things done As regards the eccentric bosses, one has to grin and bear it. One should also identify the weakness of such a boss and milk it to the maximum extent possible. One sure way of doing this is to identify some weakness that is closely related to record work. When you create records in the same fashion that he would, you could solve the problem to some extent.
In one organization, when the subordinates had a good experience with evolving the SAP architecture, they made use of the opportunity and quit the organization to join TCS, CTS and another multinational organization in Mumbai. This is exactly one intelligent way. Just lie low, learn the tricks and then escape. To a limited extent, the autocratic bosses are better. They are high-performers and even they bark at people, they always have a softer side and this should be milked. Around 1.30 PM in the afternoon, after they have had their lunch, they are always in a good mood and will normally listen to people. This the best occasion to just walk in, exchange some small idea and so on.
The Art of shutting upThis is a vital aspect of managing both the types of bosses. It could be that there are two types of bosses. One who is eccentric and another who is autocratic. You are a trainee HR, What should you do? Within the broader framework, what you should do is to maximize all learning opportunities by even visiting the houses of a few employees to get to know their economic condition. However, you should shut up on any HR issue, even if it is a very minute one. For example, if a junior supervisor complains that the daily allowance is inadequate to meet the food expenses, just shut up. Listen to him. But do not give him any guarantee. At best you should advise him to make a representation through proper channel. Which in effect means keeping his boss involved. Normally, such bosses command a big voice based on personal power. If they bring it to the attention of the biggest boss, who is the CEO of the unit. Unless you are empowered to talk, do not do so. Very few bosses like to hear any suggestion from a trainee. Remember this simple fact. The best way to keep on learning every single small experience and document the same. Sniff around and get to know how the policies are being implemented. If there has been any revision in policy, note it. And make notes on every single settlement, and check on the minutest detail, more so, if the Management had successfully bargained for every small benefit that it could get. For example, the reduction of absenteeism. If you master the art of shutting up and learning all the tricks of your trade, you will be very successful.
Isolating and keeping away from informers Even if you are in a middle management position, it often becomes a big task to manage the informers. These are shameful characters who do all the personal work of the concerned bosses and add their own "Mirch Masala" to every word spoken by you or even work done by you. It might even be some stupid thing like your waiting in the car for the others to join to go to the factory. You would have innocently arrived a bit early. But this would be interpreted as if you had not respected the others!! This is exactly what this author saw in one organization. These informers are very dangerous. The only solution is to just do your duty. They will continue to do what they do. You cannot stop them. However, by getting across to other people, who will also shut up and just do their duty, over a period of time, more so, when the boss retires and a new no-nonsense democratic boss who listens to others comes in, you can jolly well brief him about the dirty tricks of these informers. Such a boss is likely to show them their place and you will actually be rewarded for your patience. You should use the opportunity to open up channels of communication that never existed below. This is exactly what happened in other organization where the role of the informers was horrible for six years. When the new boss came in, the informers were sent to non-value adding roles. The trick of the trade is to be patient and wait for your day.
Looking ahead for greener pastures Like the two guys referred to above, who used the vital SAP architecture building experience to jump to better organizations, you should also do some good courses. Those who major in finance are superbly placed if they take up a good course in Oracle Financial. These guys are always in demand. If you are in Marketing, just to escape from the clutches of the dirty bosses, never ever jump to industrial marketing. Stick to your core of FMCG marketing only. In most industrial organizations where they never face the customer and the market is very much assured, the marketing job is only a supply chain job. If you are caught in this muddle you can never ever come out of it. Hence, stick to your core and even jump to a new city. Mumbai is the best. This is because all the action happens here. You must wait for your chance. Yes, both the eccentric and autocratic bosses are very dirty and the young professionals do not like working with them. And for them. However, learn from successful experiences of others who had jumped too far better jobs before you take the big chance. It is a big risk, but make sure that the new organization does not have the kind of bosses under whom you had the torrid time. It is worthwhile to talk to junior officials of the same company and find out the truth for yourself.
Conclusion Based on real-world experiences, some tricks of the trade of managing both the eccentric and autocratic bosses have been discussed above. You need to anchor your strategies in the particular context of your situation. This is a very important fact that you need to take into consideration when dealing with the two types of bosses.
Managing the dictator type or eccentric bosses is the most difficult thing and I have seen during my active work life in service that people have resigned or taken voluntary retirement or asked for a transfer when a new autocratic boss comes in their office. Frankly speaking, no person wants to work in a disciplined and strict environment. Everyone requires some freedom. Some people want 10-15 minutes of smoking break after 2-3 hours of working. So we are habitual of working under normal bosses who give us more value than we deserve. Now suddenly a boss comes who simply bangs us and becomes angry if the work is not done in time. We can not tolerate him and become worried and perturbed.
So patience is the most important factor in such a situation and only those who have the capability to deliver and have the patience to withstand the pressure can be successful with such bosses. In my opinion, this is the litmus test of an employee when he has to work under such a boss.