This article is about having the best possible one on one meetings with your boss. If you're not sure how to prepare or what to do in one on ones with your boss, the quick complimentary course One on One Meetings With Your Boss will show you how. (Includes a free One on One Meeting Agenda and best practice manage your manager tips.)

Your Relationship With Your Boss is Your Most Important Work Relationship

The thing is that your relationship with your boss is the most important work relationship that you have. Because it's this relationship that determines:

  • What work you do,
  • Your career progression,
  • Your increases and bonuses. 

But ultimately your work happiness too. Because if you have a bad relationship or communications with your boss, you are going to hate your job.

Good Boss or Bad Boss?

I'm going to show you how it doesn't matter if you have a good boss or a bad boss, you have the power to take control. I'm going to show you how to manage your manager.

But first let's talk about the elephant in the room - the bad boss:

The Bad Boss

Have you ever had a bad boss? Have you heard bad boss horror stories? We all have, because the research says that 90% of us will have a bad boss sometime in our careers. So how do you stop this from happening?

Take Control of Your Boss Relationship

Now sometimes you just get stuck with a bad boss, but the beautiful thing is that you don't just have to accept that. And no I'm not talking about what we call "firing your boss" which means quitting in a huff and changing your boss by finding a new job. Because odds are you will just replace one problem with another. The key is Managing Your Relationship With Your Boss - manage upwards!

First Start With Some Compassion

It may help you to know that being a boss is extremely difficult for many people. I know that I wasn't born with the natural skills that I needed to be a great boss. And while I had excellent technical skills and spent many years and many thousands of dollars investing in my education, no one showed me how to be a good boss. And in my experience there are far too many bosses who haven't had the training they need.

So if you change jobs, the risk is that you will end up with a bad boss. These aren't necessarily bad people - they are just doing a difficult job that no one showed them how to do. So a good place to start is to have some compassion. And when you have this understanding then you have a great basis to go forward, on a co-operative level instead of an antagonistic level.

My Story

I'd like to share a quick personal story that should help you understand this. I had a very successful boss who was a great leader. But not as good at managing as he was at leading. So I had been working really hard to meet my performance objectives. Every month I checked against my performance objectives from my last review to make sure that I was on track.

But then the next performance review happened and he gave me some negative feedback for not doing something he hadn't asked me to do. And instead of getting a good rating for all of my hard work, I ended up with average. Needless to say I was pretty upset. ( I really do believe that bosses have a responsibility to help their employees perform and I created Boss Camp to show bosses how to do this.)

But that's not the lesson. The lesson is that I was not doing a good job to make sure that I was meeting the boss's expectations before the performance review. If I take the responsibility for checking in with my boss's expectations in a one on one meeting then I have empowered myself to fix the problem.

But if I blame my boss for not doing what I think he should have done then what happens is that:

  • Things go wrong,
  • I lose out on my bonus and, 
  • I end up angry.

But perhaps most dangerously of all without responsibility people feel helpless. And people who feel helpless end up sad and depressed.

This isn't about what's wrong or right, it's about doing what works and making your life better despite what other people around you do. Regardless of whether you're lucky to have a good boss or a bad boss, you always have the power to take action to make things better. But you have to choose to take the personal responsibility to make a difference. If you live in blame you will always be powerless.

Take Power by Taking the Personal Responsibility

I'm a big believer about taking personal responsibility for ourselves. And one thing that you can do is that you can take responsibility for your communications. And this isn't just for bad bosses it's essential for all bosses.

Manage upwards - what I now realize is that if I had been having regular high quality one on ones with my boss then I could've found out about what my boss really wanted.

Your best communication channel with your boss is your weekly one on one meeting. And taking responsibility for your communications means coming well prepared. And taking responsibility means helping your boss to have the best quality one on ones because there are two people in a one on one meeting. Helping your boss means:

  • Helping to stick to the agenda,
  • Keep things moving fast,
  • Stay flexible,
  • Communicating openly with compassion.

And you don't have to just do this for your boss. You can do it for yourself to. Because regular, high quality one on ones with your boss is going to save you time, improve your earnings and improve your happiness at work.


And so to wrap up...

I know I wasn't the first employee to get an unfair bad review because of not meeting some hidden criteria. And I won't be the last either. And even though I thought I was doing what I needed to, clearly I wasn't And even though I was working hard, clearly I was wasting my time.

But there is a better way. Instead of wasting my time doing the wrong things and then getting upset with my review, I can take responsibility for communicating with my boss. Still wondering how to manage your manager? Start by managing upwards. The best forum for communications with your boss is to have regular, high quality, one on ones. 

Tip: Want to get the most out of your one on ones? One on One Meetings With Your Boss Will show you how. It's free and includes a One on One Meeting Agenda for you to download.


Do you have any questions, comments or tips about one on ones between bosses and employees? Do you have any good manage your manager tips? Please help the rest of us out by sharing in the comments below.

Boss Camp

The research indicates that most bosses are disliked and most employees don’t respect their bosses. This is why it’s so hard to motivate your staff. This isn’t someone else’s problem it’s the problem that you have to face every day as boss. WWW.BOSS.CAMP is about tried and tested, ethical management techniques for the every day manager like you and me. So that instead of worrying if your employees like and respect you, you can worry about where to put your world’s best boss mug. The program includes topics such as:

  • How to motivate employees,
  • What are bad employee motivators,
  • What you must do as a manager but isn't on your job description,
  • How leaders get power.