I work for a "pegged out" high C.  He has some D in him somewhere and he occasionally tries to cultivate the I, but he's really all about the C.  No administrative item is too trivial - if it is so trivial that it does not warrant a day of review with several revisions (including changes to his changes), then it is not worth making it even near the top of his inbox.  After eight months in this job, he is now at the point where nothing passes through to higher management unless his boss is banging down the door.  We are late on almost everything and it is starting to affect team morale.

I understand the guidance to not manage my boss, but I need some help with guidance on how to help my boss get through the high-C paperwork nightmare.  I am one of three intermediate managers between the boss and about 25 line employees.  The three of us have been trying to figure out how we can help him (and so help the team).

Any thoughts from the MT community?

ashdenver's picture

As my husband says (quite regularly), "It's all about me!"  So rather than trying to manage your manager, keep things focused on you and your team.  Use the feedback model: "When paperwork sits on your desk to the point that deadlines are missed, it adversely impacts my team's morale. What can we do differently in the future?"  

Or, you can buff up your D traits and keep him on-task and on-deadline for the sake of your team.  "Boss, here's that paperwork for the Cuddy Project. I'll be back for it this afternoon at 3pm."  "Boss, it's 3pm so I'm here to get that Cuddy paperwork." "Boss, you haven't given me the Cuddy paperwork yet which is putting the entire project behind schedule. What can I do to help? Would you like me to send an update to management indicating that we're stalled on this piece of paperwork fr you?"

Between the three of you, it might be best to consult each other as to what's at the top of each of your lists and compare deadlines.  Prioritize amongst yourselves and work as a team to keep him on-track, meeting deadlines for each of your individual projects, etc.  True, it's not your job to manage your boss but it is your job to manage things effectively to keep the team reasonably content and focused on doing a good, timely job.  If they're too distracted knowing that nothing they do will be seen by anyone past your boss's desk, then why would they give a flying fig?  

As tempting as it might be to let your boss continue to be his own worst enemy (meaning: give him enough rope to hang himself so that he's seen for the bottleneck that he is) things don't always work out that way.  Your boss could be telling senior management that it your fault (the three of you collectively or you individually) who can't do your own jobs well enough that he's not mired in the details of cleaning up after you guys to the point that all these critical deadlines are missed and if you're gone, things would move much more efficiently. 

So get in there with the boss and get on his team. "What can I do to help move things across your desk faster?  Do you not like the word "cat" so I should just make a point of never-ever using the word "cat" in anything I submit so that we don't have to waste time reviewing and revising?  Do you prefer 14 pt Arial font instead of the 12 pt Times New Roman I've been using?  (I've worked for people like this - it's not that much of a stretch.)  What can I do or change with regard to the product I submit to you, Boss, so that it doesn't have to spend three days on your desk?  (My goal is three minutes, not three days.)"

I've always seen the direct report relationship as a symbiotic one.  If I can help my boss look good, s/he'll get promoted which will open a space for me.  If I can give my boss rubber-stamp-ready materials, it makes it that much easier to say "yes, go ahead" to whatever I've put on their desk. Likewise, I will expect my boss to support, coach, guide and respect me in return. 

Kind of rambling this afternoon but I hope something in there helps.

DiSC profile: 7-2-1-5