Craving Autonomy? Try Managing Your Boss

If your boss hovers around your desk like a helicopter, changing the way you interact may keep him away from your cubicle.

Because they’re unsure which employees require diligent oversight, managers new to their roles often supervise subordinates closely. In the absence of trust, they tend to manage everyone carefully, which can grate on the nerves of experienced workers. Since relationships are a two-way street, changing the nature of your association can be the difference between autonomous bliss and over-managed misery.

Use these techniques to instill trust in your relationship and keep your boss in his own office.

  1. Provide frequent updates: Take a proactive approach by voluntarily providing your boss with frequent progress reports. This technique will allow you to control when you interact with him, while demonstrating your trustworthiness. Gradually lengthen the time between your reports, until you’ve successfully retrained your boss. A savvy manager will soon turn their attention to other issues and employees, once they know they can count on you.
  2. Schedule meetings: You don’t want to seem rude, or miss opportunities to bond with your boss, but if he has a tendency to stop by unannounced and stays too long like a tardy houseguest, tell him you’re not prepared to have a meaningful discussion and ask if you can update him in the morning. Scheduled meetings over a defined agenda are likely to be shorter than impromptu sessions. Before you conclude, ask when he needs the next update and schedule a convenient time. Knowing when he’ll receive your next report will put him at ease and dissuade him from looking over your shoulder during the interim.
  3. Offer subtle hints: Leaning forward in your seat, or sitting on the edge of your chair, will convey a sense of urgency. If you stand up when he enters your cube, it will discourage him from settling into a chair. In extreme cases, remove extra chairs from your cubicle or fill them with papers, which will keep any visitor from staying too long.

Leslie Stevens-Huffman

4 Responses to “Craving Autonomy? Try Managing Your Boss”

  1. Frankly, there are TOO MANY of these bosses. They apparently have never been properly trained or just thought it through. Mostly it comes from a deep sense of insecurity and ignorance. They just don’t know any better. Mike (another post here) is absolutely right… I have been thrown under the bus by these types more than once. Start looking for a different position at the first sign of this.

  2. This is so true, in my personal experience my past Sr. Managers were getting upset that thier “Boss” our Sr. V.P. would call me directly for suggestions or questions on the network as well as future projects. My Manager would call with many questions, and after making recommendations for the network and facility nothing got done. That is when I began to understad that they were lost. Well the first chance they had to throw me on the train tracks they did it together. I will never let this happen again to me. I will begin looking for employment change the next time around.

  3. I had one job in a cubicle which was set up so my back was facing the opening as I worked at my workstation. My boss would literally sneak in the opening of mine or someone else’s cube and stand behind the person with his arms folded. Apparently people complained about him enough so the company passed out “rear view” mirrors that would stick to the side of the monitor. I am positive it was because of this guy.

    Oddly enough, I had known him previously from another company where he was not my boss. He had seemed to be a pretty good guy, but it turned out he was miserable to work for.

    On the other hand, I once had a boss who under supervised. She was apparently unhappy with something about how (she thought) I was doing my job, but she would never tell me what it was. I don’t know how to fix what I don’t know is broken.