How do I manage my bosses so they leave me alone to do my job?

Dear Aunty B,

Last week, I was on top of the world as I, at last, got my dream job. This week I feel like the opposite.

I am now managing 13 staff, having worked my way to the top of that division for five years! But now that I am there, I am in a nightmare. I report directly to two bosses and have dotted lines to three others. So I have spent the last week with the five of them in my face, telling me they expect the world.

I look ahead and see months of misery as they make my life hell competing for my time and resources. Some of them make no bones about openly saying they compete with each other. I seem to have stepped out of nice worker’s paradise into managerial mayhem. I have talked to my mentor, who advises sitting them all down and sorting it out, but I don’t feel I have the authority to do that.

How do I manage my bosses so they leave me alone to do my job?

Please keep me anon.


Dear Please keep me anon,

And therein lies the great leadership challenge. You see, you have passed through to another world. You have left behind the world of “I will do this today because someone has told me to” and are now in the world of “WTH – I have to figure this out!”

That includes working out how to manage up, sideways, down and outwards (competitors, economy and so on.) This is really confronting and terribly uncomfortable. And your prime instinct is going to be to flee back to the comfy world of doing, where you will be left alone and actually feel productive at the end of the day.

But that world is gone. So you need to figure out your new role.

You must figure out:

  • Your KPIs.
  • Your priorities.
  • An execution plan to achieve those priorities.
  • The resourcing and time allocation needed to achieve those priorities.
  • A plan for your bosses.

What do they need to know and when? And how do they want that information? Then call a meeting with them one by one and put to them the plan. Then sit down and work out how many hours a week managing up is going to take.

Maybe five hours a week is going to be spent with managers; maybe 10. But that is part of the job, so accept it and get on with it. In return, the managers need to know that you won’t be moving things around willy-nilly for them. If they miss the meeting, you can update them online.

Oh, and find another mentor.

Be smart,

Your Aunty B

To read more Aunty B advice, click here.

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