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How to manage your BOSS

Last updated on: September 12, 2013 16:31 IST

How to manage your BOSS

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Manjiri Gokhale Joshi

Manjiri Gokhale Joshi, author of the book Bosses of the Wild tells you how knowing your boss' personality can help you communicate better at work. Click here to read an excerpt of the book! Illustrations by Dominic Xavier

May it be a customer, a boss, a peer or a team member, most disagreements, you'd agree are results of gaps in communication.

While in some cases nothing is said or something is not said as clearly, it is possible that something is said but it just means different things to different people.

The book Bosses of the Wild on animal behaviour and leadership personality types recommends tailoring your mode of communication depending on your boss' personality type.

Meanwhile, here are some winning strategies you can employ to deal with difficult bosses.

1. Boss personality: Sloth

Key traits: Lethargy, procrastination, over-delegation.

The only defence is to hide.

Don’t bother with lengthy documents and expect the sloth to respond to the nuances of your labour of love.

None of your painstaking analysis will be read. But you cannot get away with doing any less work.

In order to survive, some things must be accomplished and the person to slog is you.

Present a summary and a succinct action plan outlining how you will accomplish all that is expected.

If the plan does not contain any laborious work for the sloth and just needs his approval from time to time, everything will go swimmingly!

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Manjiri Gokhale Joshi

2. Boss personality: Rabbit

Key traits: Alertness, risk averseness, insecurity.

Don’t make sweeping statements that will disturb the status quo.

Any radical ideas which his own boss may or may not approve, will give him the jitters.

If you want harmony with the rabbit, do what has always been done and has not invoked criticism.

If you ask the rabbit for approval at every tiny stage of what you want to accomplish, your idea will die a slow, silent death.

If you spring the idea on him at a later stage, there will be a panic attack and your idea will die anyway with a lot of hopping, jumping and panic stricken cries. Strategise before you say anything!

Silently garner support from the rabbit’s boss or supporters.

Hopefully, the rabbit develops confidence that he won’t be sacked for letting you stick your neck out. And then maybe, you can accomplish what you set out to do.




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3. Boss personality: Peacock

Key traits: Friendly, socially aware, need to be admired.

If you are seeing the peacock in person, make sure you are dressed right.

Have the big picture, summary, snazzy graphics, images and a recap for help.

Leave behind some glossy printouts with large images and minimal text.

Throw in a few trendy terms like ‘Virtual war rooms, Win-win situation.’

In your action plan, propose issuing news alerts and a speech or two by the peacock to roll out the initiative.

Speak with confidence and don’t lose eye contact.

Avoid huge bundles of dull printouts with complex calculations in fine print.

Modulate your tone when you speak.

If you drone on, the peacock will write you off without a second thought for whatever you were actually trying to convey.



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4. Boss personality: Owl

Key traits: Propriety, meticulousness, unwillingness to break rules.

Double check the numbers you present.

Print everything with the key points highlighted with a detailed explanation.

Don’t be vague and don’t throw jargon.

Present facts as they are and don’t try any window dressing.

If your proposal looks pretty but is hazy on facts, you are in for a grilling.



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5. Boss personality: Frog

Key traits: Focus on time-tested practices, resistance to change

Don’t talk about how the world outside is doing it.

You are just attacking an already weak area -- world view.

Don’t antagonise the otherwise amicable frog by talking too big.

Of course use the knowledge you have to accomplish the goal you are trying to achieve for success is very important to a frog but just don’t dwell on how you gained that knowledge.

Your education, opportunities to travel, reading or just your efforts in seeking out best practices…whatever the reason for your exposure to the world is, just don’t rub it in!



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6. Boss personality: Dolphin

Key traits: Amicable nature, desire to be liked.

Start with a pleasant greeting.

Set aside a few minutes for a quick discussion on personal life (his and yours too).

Illustrate the benefits of what you are trying to do through a story.

Use of good visuals and a touch of the emotive element are sure to get his attention.

Whichever type of dolphin you are talking to, the dolphin will smile and why not, smile back!

The dolphin is a very good listener and absorbs a lot of information based on what you say, cues from your body language and your tone of voice.

If the dolphin does not like something, he will not say it but that does not mean he has not caught on.

Depending on the age, experience and roles played in the past, the dolphin will not let unpleasantness touch his core or take it in his stride.

If you play straight and keep the interaction pleasant, you’ll get a wonderful, warm response.

If you are rude, dishonest, arrogant or conniving, you will still not get any aggression. So be the responsible one and be nice!



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7. Boss personality: Eagle

Key traits: Fearlessness, focus on results.

Smile, but cut out the niceties and plunge straight into what you are doing to achieve the eagle’s goal.

Whatever the roadblocks in achieving that goal, don’t bother telling the eagle that the market conditions are not right or any resources you needed are not available.

As far as the eagle is concerned, ambition is supreme; what the eagle wants is the highest priority and any excuses are not acceptable.

The eagle always wants something and wants it now.

If you want to survive in eagle land, do what it takes to fulfill that need for instant gratification!



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8. Boss personality: Lion

Key traits: Impressive personality, passion, importance to loyalty

The lion can be unpredictable and his reaction to your presentation may not be completely dependent on what you actually said or did.

Present the big picture in style but make sure there is substance.

While the lion appreciates grandeur and largesse, he will not tolerate shallowness.

State the benefits of what you are trying to achieve right up front.

Focus on results with a brief but clear and plausible explanation of how you will achieve them.

Have your facts and figures ready but don’t bother the lion with too many time-consuming details.

Add an endorsement from someone whose opinion the lion values.

Like the eagle, the lion has a pathological need to win and be proclaimed the best. So make sure you have all the ingredients to make it happen.



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9. Boss personality: Lioness

Key traits: Ability to multi-task, desire to nurture, passion.

What you are trying to communicate may be the most important professional endeavour for you.

But for the lioness, it is probably one of the many tasks she needs to get out of the way.

So tell her exactly how you know it and ask what you don't to know.

If you pretend to know, the loss is yours.

If you are confused, say you are confused. By the end of your conversation with the lioness, your thought process and the line of action will be crystal clear!

You may have heard that flattery works with the lioness and you might actually sense her warming up to you.

But when she does realise that you were not playing straight, she will never ever bother giving you any time.

After that, she might endure you, but you have lost respect in her eyes and that is a point of no-return.



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10. Boss personality: Hyaena

Key traits: Strategy, discretion, desire to control.

You can be as straight as you like, but there will always be something about the hyaena you will not know about.

You may find out later or you may never find out.

It may be extremely harmful to you or just plain irritating, but there is always a layer of the onion hidden under the one you just peeled!

Have your facts, figures and packaging in top order for the hyaena has an inherent need to win and will do anything to make that happen.

Do your best and do not forget the rest. Always be on your guard.



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11. Boss personality: Elephant

Key traits: Wisdom, knowledge, above ambition.

Don’t try to pretend you have worked hard and done your research.

You will not be able to fool an elephant.

Don’t try to fluff up things.

Even if you focus on the big picture for anyone with the stature of the lion or elephant, the elephant is likely to ask you for details and is very likely to read the documents that you may leave behind.

Don’t try to brush the fine print under the carpet.

You will be caught anyway. So be straightforward, outline exactly what you intend to do and back it up with statistics and metrics.



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