There is one beast in the corporate jungle that almost everyone worships or vilifies or tries to ignore--the boss.
Through good management, a boss can make a tedious task seem important or can make the best job in the world seem little more than a daily nuisance. But a USC management consultant and trainer has found a new approach to improving office relations and productivity.
B. J. Hateley teaches employees how to manage their bosses.
"Managing your boss doesn't mean bossing your manager," says Hateley, director of the staff training and professional development program at the university.
"The principles of human behavior apply. People do what they are rewarded for and don't do things they not rewarded for," Hateley says. "Bosses respond to pats on the head, too."
Popular 4-Hour Class
What began as a lark last year has blossomed into a popular four-hour class to help the university's employees understand their bosses and mold them into better managers.
"Figure out the boss' needs and goals, figure out your own and make them as compatible as possible," she says. "Manage the relationship so you both get what you want."
"A good boss will appreciate it."
Hateley, who describes herself as a "sociologist of the moral life," graduated from USC with a bachelor's degree in sociology and has completed course work toward a doctorate in ethics.
Her course, called "In Search of an Excellent Boss," teaches employees to "manage up" instead of the typical "managing down" approach taught to bosses.
Listener or Reader?
"The biggest key to managing your boss is communication," she says. "You need to know if your boss is a listener or a reader. If you start talking to your boss and he cuts you off repeatedly, he isn't a listener."
A boss that Hateley calls a "listener" won't care for a written report while a "reader" may be irritated by a verbal briefing. An employee versed in the art of boss-managing would know how the boss wants to receive information and this may reduce misunderstandings and friction in the office.
Hateley recalls a personal example in which an employee managed her poorly. Each morning, the employee would pounce upon her with the latest office chatter as Hateley entered her office.
The fast-talking employee unknowingly created a wall of tension between herself and Hateley.
'Give Me 10 Minutes'
"Finally I had to tell her to give me 10 minutes when I first walked in to get settled," she says. "I like the information fairly quickly and briefly, not all the gory details."
Hateley says she teaches employees that they have a greater role in the management of an office than they may suspect.
"Bosses need employees more than employees need bosses," she says. "If all of the subordinates fell off the face of the earth this afternoon, would the job get done?" Hateley asks. "No."