FIU Business Now Magazine
Why You Should Be Managing Your Boss 

Why You Should Be "Managing Your Boss"

By Cynthia Corzo

Efforts to foster trust, loyalty and improved results in the workplace involve employees learning how to manage their bosses and taking the initiative to manage the relationship, reveals new research from FIU Business.

The research, to be published in Personnel Psychology, suggests that "managing your boss," or "MYB," is linked to a better working relationship with a supervisor, which in turn is associated with managers giving their employees better performance ratings, explained Ravi Gajendran, FIU Business professor of global leadership and management, who led the research.

MYB centers on employees proactively managing their relationships with their supervisors by understanding their boss' goals, needs or work styles and adapting their job priorities and actions accordingly.

"Our conceptualization of ‘managing your boss' recognizes that employees can feel empowered to take action to establish a good relationship and to make the relationship operate smoothly," said Gajendran. "Employees can be proactive by making an effort to understand their manager's priorities and style; adapting themselves so they are in sync with their boss."

Until now, little had been done to define and measure MYB. Gajendran and the other researchers developed a theoretical model on why, how and when MYB matters in organizations. They conducted four studies to establish an MYB scale that was used to test their theory. Later, in a matched sample of employees and managers, employees rated behaviors including MYB, job routinization and laissez-faire leadership while managers rated employee job performance.

Gajendran noted that MYB matters because, in a changing workforce, managers juggle many responsibilities and lack time. This sometimes results in employees feeling out of sync with changing expectations. If employees can anticipate their managers' goals, plans, priorities and weaknesses, they can take actions that align with managers' expectations.

The study's findings can be translated into efforts of coaching and training, as well as investments of time, which provide guidance to employees on how to engage in MYB.

Gajendran conducted the study with Sal Mistry of the University of Delaware and Subrahmaniam Tangirala of the University of Maryland.