You say potato.
I say tomato.
You say management skills.
I say subordinate skills.

If you are working, like some of us do, chances are you have a manager.

Furthermore, the relationship we have with our managers is one of the most important relationships we have in our lives due to the sheer amount of time we spend with them.

While I basically am of the opinion that all problems are inherently management problems, there’s stuff that you can and should do to make the relationship work with your manager. Skip the finger-pointing  – it is a two-way street, after all.

I call these subordinate skills (as opposed to management skills), and here are some of them:

  • Be interested in your organization, its strategy and values. Might sound obvious, but too many times I have heard the phrase: “I just work here”. Your boss needs you to be specifically interested in your current organization and not “just work here”. Don’t find it that interesting? Life is too short and the door is right there. Alternatively, you may want to discuss about this with your manager?
  • Understand your role in the big picture, and actively update the big picture with your manager, because things change, and it’s imperative that you understand how you need to change with them.
  • Have a desire to develop your professional skills. Stay up to date with what is relevant to your profession, because it’s one of those things that is changing the most. Actively look for relevant training to match your skills.
  • Willingness to give and receive feedback. In recent years, I have found the reception to be less problematic and giving feedback having become a proportionally bigger challenge. What’s going on here? Are you seeing the same? I myself practice this by saying “Thank you” more often. It works miracles.
  • Self-management: your time, work-life balance, emotions, stress. Learn to recognize when limits are approaching – don’t wait until they have. You know how.
  • Professional behavior. Contemporary professionalism includes mastering technical skills, related communication skills as well as emotional intelligence and its application. The world changes. Get up-to-date with what the contemporary professionalism for the people in your particular area today means.
  • Loyalty. Any organization you work for has to be able to assume you have enough wisdom to know what you can share publicly and what to keep inside. We need to keep improving upon our common understanding of how to handle those occasions when we feel the urge to share publicly something that can potentially damage the whole organization. Homework: is whistleblowing right?
  • Initiative. Everyone can complain. The main purpose of a complainer is to communicate that they love the role of being the victim and prefer to be a part of the problem. Be part of the solution by showing initiative: explore possibilities, propose solutions. That’s the stuff that everyone can use. This may be the most important skill out of all.

There you go.

I have a saying: you need to manage your boss, otherwise your boss will start managing you.

It’s a joke, but I also think that you do not have to wait in line for orders to arrive. You can act, explore and propose ideas to your boss for consideration. The above contains a few ideas to start with and is by no means exhaustive.

Your boss is not your enemy, but your friend. Make your bosses look good by providing them stuff that they can use. It helps you both.


Acknowledgements: thank you Wendy for editorial support!

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