Considering all the numerous types of organizations there are globally – profit vs non-profit, healthcare, education, sales – it is only natural to come across various bosses or managers throughout. The countless industries and mission of companies also reasonably demand different breeds of leaders to run a successful company, division, or team. There is certainly no cookie-cutter model of a manager and of course, individuals have their own preferences of what they are looking for in a manager as well. The real debate, though, is when working in organizations with multiple kinds of managers, how do you adapt to fit their styles. Although management styles can overlap, below is a list of some common ‘boss styles’ and how to deal with them.
There is always one in every organization. This is the leader who sees the big picture, has grandiose ideas, and plays out future situations in their head constantly. The vision of an organization is always important for strategy purposes and growth potential; however, this manager might lose sense of the day-to-day operations. Occasionally, they also have low follow through. As a subordinate or colleague of ‘the visionary’, you must be capable of also seeing the vision, but give push back on the logistics and work through the stepping-stones of getting there. This person will also most likely need someone to be his or her follow-through and help pave the path to the future.
Completely opposite of ‘the visionary’, this leader is very focused on the day-to-day operations and metrics that drive the success of an organization. For a sales organization, it could be measuring calls in a day, conversations in a week, or deals in a month. For a staffing agency, this could mean how many resumes were reviewed daily or how many positions were filled each quarter. No matter the organization, this person is looking at numbers, percentages, ratios, etc. and as an associate working for a metrics-driven manager, you must be ready to always have data ready. Even if it is not in your nature to micro-manage your daily activity, it’s important to understand that this information is vital to your manager. Start tracking, create excel documents, or tally your activity- whichever fits your style!
Don’t you feel as though they are always hovering? This person could also be considered a micro-manager, but they are most significantly the manager that is a ‘control freak’. Unfortunately, this leader is not going to help develop autonomy in their subordinates and want to oversee each project, task, or assignment. You might find them hovering over your desk, asking to be CC’d on every email, or not letting go of some of their responsibilities. This manager might seem terrifying to work for at first, but this is where you can switch the control. Make a scheduled weekly, or bi-weekly, meeting with your manager to discuss your upcoming or current tasks. This is a good time to dive into the issues, ask for their advice, and fill them in. That way they might be less likely to follow your every move throughout the week because you already have time set aside to brainstorm.
In comparison to the helicopter manager, hands-off managers are going to remove themselves from your day-to-day and stick to their own workload. Although this might sound appealing to independent workers, it can be challenging to have a manager who is physically and emotionally disconnected from your work. If you are aware you might be working with a hands-off manager, it’s important to ask how involved they are in your training and professional development. Very similarly to the approach on dealing with a helicopter manager, it will be crucial to set aside weekly, or bi-weekly, meetings/conversations to dive deeper into your projects and work. This will hopefully make your manager more invested in your success and follow-up on the work you’ve filled them in on.
The “Buzzword” Boss
This could also be compared to ‘the flavor of the week’ and is very similar to the visionary style boss. However, what differentiates the buzzword boss is their ever-changing direction and ideas. Take for example, the open floor concept. When Google started changing their work floor plans to be more of an open space, that term became a huge buzzword within organizations; the open floor layout became a new business phenomenon. Another example is ‘company culture’. How often do you see articles describing new and innovative perks within companies that are affecting turnover, revenue, and employee retention rates. This leader is going to chase these buzzwords to make their organization fit this successful mold, and truthfully it might be exhausting to keep up with. What you can do as an associate is slow your buzzword boss down to focusing on just one initiative per quarter or per year. When culture, or layout, or coffee selections, are always changing to bring the next best thing, the roots of an organization can go out the window. Help them take baby steps to innovative ideas and do some research on what really has been successful in other organizations. But really, isn’t the open-floor plan distracting?
This one is probably the toughest to deal with. Who doesn’t want colleagues that are also their friend, confidante, or drinking buddy? Many employees especially want managers they can trust, and when you think of people you trust in your personal life, it is commonly friends and family. However, there are people that do not like mixing professional with personal life, but there is no right answer. The best way to approach a leader who also wants to hang out after work for drinks or follows you on social media, is to set initial boundaries. A good recommendation would be to ease into the outside work activities, hold off on following back on Instagram, and keep your personal life experiences on surface level. Essentially, make sure you trust them at a professional level first and have them earn your ‘friendship’. A way to vet this type of boss out in interviews is to really dive into the company culture and how everyone interacts with one another or ask to be invited to a company event or outing prior to being hired.
After reviewing these various molds of bosses, it’s easy to say that there are not always managers who fit one description. You could have a leader currently that is hands-off in your work, but wants to be your friend outside of work. Similarly, there is not one right way to approach any scenario. Experience will only continue to show you what you like, dislike, appreciate, or value in a manager. It is then important to look for the cues or red flags during an interview. Feel comfortable asking management styles, to both the potential manager and potential co-workers. It is also just as important to recognize your own behavior and how to adapt. Looking inward to how you appear to a manager might make a significant difference on how they approach their management methods.