Tuesday, August 9, 2005

Dependability, Honesty and Trustworthy

These are the important elements of a healthy Boss-Manager relationship. All partners in the relationship should strive to build these as the ultimate goal.

Personal Experience in a Boss-Manager Relationship
The key to a successful Boss-Manager relationship is easily said than done. This is true especially in Chinese family owned organization. Managing up without politics is probably the difficult part of the game. In an organization where nepotism is a fact of life managing up becomes even more difficult. This subset of the problem is not studied in the HBR article.

It is not difficult to image that if nepotism exists in an organization the Manager is automatically labeled to be member of a "gang" led by the Boss (or the Boss's Boss) that he/she is serving. Having a good relationship or his/her attempt to build a good relationship with the Boss will be seen as mere survival act or described as dirty politics. These Managers will be seen by the competing team/gang or peers of the organization as incapable Managers and a target to discredit attack or destroy etc. You may be lucky if your Boss is of a type with strong character self-confidence and competent at work. What if he/she is an accidental manager who arrived at where he/she is purely by relationship and luck?

There are people who are inherently inert when dealing with subordinates. They are either not good at expressing their feelings or deliberately isolate themselves to demonstrate their superiority. If you unfortunately come across someone like that as your new boss you may face a stone wall in your attempt to understand him/her. Your only chance may only be social events after work where you may be able get more contacts and understand him/her more. It will then be an ethical issue as to whether one should give up their own social life in order to "penetrate" into his/her boss's social life in an attempt to understand more. Your act of managing upward will easily be labeled as political maneuvering or apple polishing (in Chinese shoe shining). That may also involve sacrifices such as participating in happy hour drinks, "mahong", golfing, karaoke, expensive club activities and other things that one may think ethically difficult.

Monday, August 8, 2005


This is the shot I want. I have a faded b/w photo of me very similar to this.

New bicycle

It was a hot day yesterday, shirt taken off.

Do you hate your boss?

A lot of Manager may not use the word "hate" to describe their feeling on their Boss. In fact some may actually hate their Boss and explain this feeling as personality clashes or "people chemistry". In this case this type of Manager will see their Boss as institutional enemy and will fight the Boss for the sake of fighting. This could be disastrous for one's career. Psychologists call this pattern of reactions counterdependent behaviour. Due to the subordinate's hostility the Boss will lose trust, a fundamental element of a healthy Boss-Manager relationship.

At the other extreme are Managers who suppress their anger and behave in a compliant fashion (similar to parent-child relationship) although they know bad decisions are being made by their Boss. These are "Yes" men/women in an organization. Both counterdependent and overdependent are extremes that should be aware of and avoided.

Work Style and Expectations
Daily encounters generate conflicts and sometime hostility if partners are working under pressure and their work styles are not compatible. After knowing your Boss the participants, normally it is you the subordinate, has to make adjustment to your work style to suit.

The subordinate has to manage expectations of his Boss as well. It is very wrong to passively assume that you can read your Boss's mind as to his expectation of you. Some Bosses may like to spell out explicitly of what they want but some don't and leave you guessing. The possible misunderstanding of expectation may cause great problems to the individual involved or affect bottom line. After all the burden falls on the Manager due the hierarchical advantage of the Boss. It is also wrong to rely too much on management systems such as planning report, appraisal, memo and communication tools unless you are sure your Boss is a good reader and these systems have worked perfectly in the past.

Saturday, August 6, 2005

Understand your boss

Understand Your Boss
Practically to understand your Boss, you could ask yourself below questions

  • Do you know that your Boss is dependent upon you?

  • Do you know what objectives/goals your Boss is trying to accomplish?

  • Do you need help from your Boss to do your job well?

  • Do you know what your Boss is good at and what are his weaknesses?

  • Do you know how your Boss manages his Boss?

  • Do you know if your Boss's Boss is a difficult Boss?

  • Do you know the work style of your Boss, e.g. is he/she a listener or a reader?

  • Do you aware of things you do that upset our Boss?

  • Is he/she a good-news only Boss?

  • Does your Boss know your strengths and weaknesses?

  • Does he/she know that a healthy Boss-Manager is important to the company?

  • Can you tell the mood of your Boss from his/her face, tone or gesture?

Know Yourself Well
It is very unlikely that you can change the personality of your Boss but if you know your own strengths weaknesses and personal style you will have better control on your part. It is true that although the Boss-Manager relationship is of mutual dependence it is also one in which the subordinate, in this case the Manager, is typically more dependent on the Boss due to his hierarchical disadvantage.

Friday, August 5, 2005

Managing your boss

HBR January 2005 - by John J Gabarro and John P Kotter

The origin of this article is also an article by the same authors dated back 25 years ago. The authors John J. Gabarro and John P. Kotter introduced a method to view and manage the Manager-Boss relationship. Since the article was published it was said that it has improved the practice of management and the advices given have helped Managers, and improved the bottom line of corporations.

What Is Managing Your Boss?
The theory behind the need for managing your Boss is that the Manager-Boss relationship is about mutual dependence of the participants. This relationship in its simplest form is about two way traffic of mutual dependence. The sad fact is that the subordinate in this relationship has higher stake than the Boss. If the Manager does not handle the relationship properly he could lose a promotion, company/team performance affected or even fired. The article first used an example of Frank Gibbons (Boss) and Philip Bonnevie (Manager) to illustrate the point. Bonnevie never had experienced a difficult Boss like Gibbons before and a series of misunderstandings between them have caused the company big money and Bonnevie's career. It Is All About Communication and Know Your Partner in the Relationship. Some people believe that there is not much mutual dependence in the Manager-Boss relationship. To understand this one has to know that Boss is also fallible human being like the Manager himself, and more importantly:

  • The Manager must have a good understanding of his boss and himself, especially on strengths, weaknesses, work styles, and needs.

  • Utilize the information from the above point to develop and manage a healthy working relationship – one that's compatible with each other's styles and assets and meets the most critical needs of the other person.

Thursday, August 4, 2005

AOL explorer beta

Just tried this AOL Explorer few days ago. It's not really ready and it needs a lot more to attract real users. It hasn't got skin/theme to attract users. The desktop search is limited to files only without support to email. May be AOL expects people to use their webmail therefore isn't supporting that yet. The search results hasn't got sufficient details, just file names and folder, which are far from sufficient. It lacks things like autofill and password manager etc which are essential for daily use.

It's quite stable and I quite like to sidebar. I guess I'll go back in few months.

My place

Originally uploaded by sfong15.
Who's hiding behind me?