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Managing your manager

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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.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Mohan M Prasad March 18, 2010 at 5:13 am

Whoever said ‘creativity cannot be delegated ”

It’s a tough call no doubt.

Here your idea of email Q & A will just not work with such people.

I think you need to understand where he is coming from.

There are bosses who want their team members to help them in converting their abstracts (ideas) to concrete (plans). In so doing both complement each other and the results are great!

In your position, I will take the execution of project assignment step by step with sketchy plans and options at each stage so that you are able to build the tower block by block.

There is no substitute to dialogues with him; at every stage giving him options. This way over time you are able to size him and may be even predict his expectations

It’s a challenge to be explored no doubt; however do not work as if it’s a problem to be solved

All the Best

Mohan M Prasad

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