Every boss has a different management style, which can be frustrating for employees. Once you learn to adapt to one style, you're thrown in with a new manager you have no idea how to please. This guide will give you a few basic types of managers, plus provide tips for getting along with each.
1. The "My Way or the Highway" manager. Not one for being open to others' ideas, this manager is happiest when she's getting her way. She likely thinks she's the most competent person at the company, which can make it difficult to meet her sky-high expectations.
Don't expect praise or even recognition from this manager, as she's too wrapped up in her vision for the company. Instead, focus on figuring out what that vision is, and what she's looking to achieve. It might be a purely selfish motive, such as getting a promotion of her own, or something that will put her in a positive light, like helping the company achieve record sales. Whatever that vision, get on board. Do whatever you can to support her vision, and she'll take notice.
2. The Mama or Papa manager. Some bosses take on the role of parent in their management style. They may urge you to come to them with all manner of issues—from not getting along with a co-worker to marital issues at home. While it may make things easy on the job to have a manager that cares so much about his staff, make sure to keep your distance when it comes to opening up about your personal life.
There is such a thing as too much involvement on the part of a manager. While he should take interest in his staff and make efforts to remedy difficult situations, you and your co-workers should not rely on him completely. Instead strive for independence, maintain a professional distance when it comes to talking about your personal life, and ask for help when appropriate.
3. The Wishy-Washy Fish manager. If you've ever had a manager say she'd take care of something and then never do it, or who was reluctant to make a hard decision on anything, you've worked for a Wishy-Washy Fish. It's a mystery how she came into management in the first place, as she's lacking all the key components a good manager should have: decisiveness, assertiveness, and confidence. Instead, she puts it on you and your team members to make decisions she should be making.
Unfortunately, this type of manager can be detrimental to the entire department, as she likely won't have the spine to fire underachievers, or put her foot down when things are going poorly. Take control by working independently, or being frank with her in saying you'd rather her be firm in her decisions, as that helps the team function better.
4. The Center Stage manager. The Center Stage manager is always the center of attention and willing to do anything to get people to like him. He's a bit of a politician, playing to sides to get what he wants, yet unable to deliver when it comes time. Beware of getting used by this manager, as he's not afraid to take on a willing scapegoat to make himself look good.
If you're looking to climb the corporate ladder, find a way to get in his good graces, and he'll take you along for the ride. Determine how much you're willing to be used to achieve your own professional goals. His network of contacts alone might be worth it.
Your best bet on the job is to figure out what makes your manager tick, then determine how you can play to that to achieve what you want out of the job. The better you get along with your boss, of course, the more likely you are to succeed.
Lindsay Olson is a founding partner and public relations recruiter with Paradigm Staffing and Hoojobs.com, a niche job board for public relations, communications, and social media jobs. She blogs at LindsayOlson.com, where she discusses recruiting and job search issues.