Managing your manager

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in Your Office Coach

Question:  “When my boss gives me a project, he never shares all the information that resides in his head, so I often fail to achieve his vision of the final results. Then I have to redo tasks that were already completed. If I try to get information in advance, he will never give it to me in an orderly manner. I’ve started e-mailing my questions with bullet points, so he can type the answers underneath. “Mr. Visionary” says he wants me to think outside the box, but I believe he really expects me to read his mind. How can I work with this person?” — Going Crazy

Marie’s Answer:  You and your scattered boss illustrate a classic difference in thinking styles.  Here’s an explanation:

•    Creative Visionaries focus on the big picture and overlook details. They get excited about new ideas and love to make changes. Sound like your manager?

•    Organized Implementers, on the other hand, concentrate on specifics and action steps. They plan ahead and despise last-minute changes. You seem to fall into this category.

•    Your manager’s frustrating traits simply reflect the way his brain works. He can’t impart details because he hasn’t thought about them. He doesn’t give facts "in an orderly manner" because he’s not a structured thinker. For you, however, organizing information is as natural as breathing.  

•    Since Mr. Visionary isn’t likely to change, you might as well focus on “managing up.”  Your strategy of sending bullet-point e-mails is a great example of adapting to a boss with a different style.  

Visionaries and Implementers have complementary perspectives, so they often make a terrific team.  However, as you have noticed, they can also drive each other nuts.  

For suggestions on getting along with your manager, see How to Manage Your Boss.

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