Dealing with Supervisors

"Managing up": Not everyone who supervises people knows how to supervise well.  It is frustrating to feel unsure of what your supervisor expects, whether your supervisor is happy with your performance, or how you can assert yourself in a positive way within the organization.  Developing the skill of "managing up" empowers employees to guide their supervisors into managing employees more effectively.  When you "manage up," you help your supervisor do a better job managing you.  Here are some articles that might be helpful in explaining the concept and providing some ideas:

Abrasive bosses: Portland executive coach Laura Crawshaw has some helpful insights and advice about abrasive bosses in her book, Taming the Abrasive Manager: How To End Unnecessary Roughness in the Workplace (2007).  She has condensed some of these ideas in this powerpoint, which includes the following observations:

  • In a 2009 study at the University of North Carolina, 775 people were asked how they responded to unpleasant interactions (rudeness, insensitivity, or disrespect) in the workplace.  The findings:
    • 48% intentionally decreased work effort
    • 47% intentionally decreased time at work
    • 39% intentionally decreased the quality of their work
    • 63% lost work time avoiding the offender
    • 66% said their performance declined
    • 78% said their commitment to the organization declined
    • 12% left their job
  • Most people assume that abrasive leaders are fully aware of (and intend) the destructive nature and impact of their behaviors, and that they cannot change. 
  • But research shows that abrasive leaders often have little or no awareness of their behaviors, are motivated by fear (specifically, they are afraid of looking incompetent), and usually are coachable.