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Managing your manager

Any tips/tricks to keep things smooth with your manager?

Every once in a while I like to pick an argument with him about something.  An issue where I know he's right or the end result doesn't really matter.  Then he has to work a little to 'convince' me.  I end up agreeing with him and he walks away happy.

Mac
Friday, August 01, 2003

Mac,

Are you asking for (more) tips? Or are you asking us to approve of your way?

Practical Geezer
Friday, August 01, 2003

I'm not looking for approval.  I was just wondering if other people did similiar things.  You may be doing it and not even realize it.  Whole books have been written on the psychology of persuasion and influence.

Mac
Friday, August 01, 2003

"Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion" being one to match your choice of words perfectly :-)

But that aside, your intention was not clear to me, because you start off with a question, then describing what sounds like an answer to that very same question...

Practical Geezer
Friday, August 01, 2003

I just dye my hair blond and giggle a lott.

Just me (Sir to you)
Friday, August 01, 2003

You're just manipulating him - that's nothing to be proud of.

Don't expect many manipulating tricks from people on this board, they're mostly decent, honest people with principles who prefer open and honest relationships.

Yanwoo
Friday, August 01, 2003


Agreed... honesty by far is the best policy.

Joe AA
Friday, August 01, 2003

Mac,

Why would you do that? Picking an argument with your manager?

One way to look at it is that you are training him that he can win the argument by convincing you he is right. What happens when it's a real discussion and he gets frustrated because the argument is going like the other ones?

Influence is one thing. What you are describing isn't influence.

No..I just prefer to be myself and leave the manipulations to the politicians.

Mark Hoffman
Friday, August 01, 2003

Yeah... it's so hard to fake sincerity...

:)

Grumpy Old-Timer
Friday, August 01, 2003

I agree that the OP's method is pretty wrong-headed, but there are lots of times when managing up becomes an important thing to do. I have worked for various bosses and clients who lacked managerial skills. I've never managed a large group, but I manage projects all the time, and I've often pushed some of my management strategies upstream to get things done more efficiently and to help myself feel comfortable about how things are going.

A really easy way to do this is to create due dates that a flaky manager wouldn't have thought to create. You can make them due dates for yourself, and just share them with your manager. You can work in dependencies on other people's work and talk to your manager about the importance of getting those other things done on time. Often this will get your manager to push a little on the other people with tasks to complete.

Certainly anyone who does needs analysis has to do a lot of managing up--the client is your boss, but the client doesn't necessarily know what needs to go into the software, or even what steps need to be taken to determine what needs to go into the software. There are many times when it becomes the developer's job to get the client to work harder to do that bit of the work, or to do thorough-enough testing. Here you can be more explicit in telling clients what you need, but it's important that you get good at doing that in a way that gets the work done and doesn't offend the client.

There are also times when I've had to help clients or bosses manage relationships with others. I had one boss who was quite a hothead, and there was a guy we worked with who was a real PITA, but he worked in a group whose help we needed. I kept my eyes and ears open so that I was aware of as much communication between the two of them as possible, and I worked with my boss to get him to focus on what we needed out of the group, and what we could do to get it, and to ignore the PITA's snide comments. It wasn't psychotherapy, but it was paying attention to what was going on and trying to give my boss a place to vent and reminding him of how little the snide comments mattered, relative to the data we needed from the other group.

Plenty more strategies out there, I'm sure.

Jeremy

Jeremy
Friday, August 01, 2003

Your tongue is brown!


Friday, August 01, 2003

There's a difference between managing upwards (ok) and manipulating people (not ok).

Yanwoo
Friday, August 01, 2003

how about manipulating manipulative people?

Daniel Shchyokin
Friday, August 01, 2003

My personal approach to managing up is to employ what amounts to the Socratic method and a great deal of patience.  Before you enter the conversation, be sure you have a firm grasp of the problem or material you are going to discuss.  Develop the logical progression from where you are now to where you want to be.  Figure out any way that the argument can be attacked.  Next, go to the boss and start asking questions.  If you get good at this, you can guide his thinking process so that he'll arrive safely at your presumably correct conclusion.  The added bonus is that he figured it out for himself (with your help, of course) so he'll have a great deal of skin in the game when it comes to defending the conclusion.

Note that this method requires a lot of preparation and even more patience.  The urge to jump ahead and tell him the answer is powerful.  Coming in unprepared or surrendering to the urge, though, will destroy the effectiveness of the method.

anon
Friday, August 01, 2003

anon,

this approach might be succesfull, but it breaks down in situation where the manager does not buy in to "logic". I know this is very hard for techies to grasp, but there is a very substantial part of humanity that simply does not buy "logic" as a truth preserving principle.

Just me (Sir to you)
Monday, August 04, 2003

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