In the office, there are good supervisors and bad supervisors.
1.1 The Good supervisor
You are lucky, if your supervisor is good. You’ll be able to use your talent to the full and you will be encouraged to do your best. When you are given elbow room to experiment and extend yourself, work becomes a joy. You bloom and grow to your full potential.
2.1 The Lousy Supervisor
Unfortunately, there are lousy supervisors who always take advantage of their position to make life miserable for us in the office.
· Abuse us
· Bully us
· Are contemptuous of us
· Envy us
· Harm us
· Malign us
· Persecute us
· Spiteful to us
· Threaten us
· Wound us
· Bulldoze us
Understand that no one bothers about you if you are not a threat or a no-body. If you do not have potential, no one will create trouble for you as no one kicks a dead dog. People will probe and test you before they mount an attack on you. When they encounter marsh, they will proceed but when they encounter steel, they will withdraw.
Before attacking, they will assess your reaction and calculate their risk:
If you show no reaction, they will be bolder
If you are timid, they will hound you
If you cave in, they will take over
If you resist, they may start a battle
If you counterattack, they may withdraw
If you build strong allies, they may leave you alone.
2.2 Your Lousy Supervisor Wins
He wins without battle, if he
- (a) demoralises you to make you fearful
- (b) breaks up your alliances
- (c) breaks your will to resist
- (d) causes distrust between you and your staff
- (e) frustrates you
- (f) harasses you to intimidate you
- (g) irritates you to provoke you
- (h) robs you of your heart
- (i) undermines your determination to succeed
In the Art of War by Sun Tzu, under the heading Strategy, it states:
"If you outnumber the enemy by ten to one, surround them; by five to one, attack them; by two to one, divide them. If you are equally matched, take the offensive. If the enemy forces are slightly stronger, prepare for defence; if vastly superior, retreat, for no matter how valiantly a small force may fight, it must succumb in the end to greater strength and numbers."
In the office environment, your immediate supervisor is always slightly stronger than you. So, you cannot be lax in not taking the initiative to prepare your defence. To win in such a situation, you have to seize and retain the initiative. If you do not take the initiative, you will usually lose.
How then do you take the initiative to prepare for your defence?
There are essentially 3 ways in your defence:
4.1 Managing our Boss (immediate supervisor)
Agenda ---To obtain the best results for our company, our boss and ourselves. This is not for political maneuvering or for apple polishing.
Purpose---To make our boss trust us so that he gives us more elbow room to do our work in the way we do best.
Procedure---To achieve that, we have to systematically work at the following Do’s and Don’ts.
Acronym ---L U C U S is the Boss
(1) Look for ways to help him
- a) Make him look good
- b) What do I do that hampers him and to remedy it.
- c) In what key areas does he need my support?
- d) How can I ease his burden?
- e) What is it that he finds difficult to do and how can I help?
- a) His likes and his dislikes
- b) His strengths and his weaknesses
- c) His needs and his wants
- d) His work habits--allow him to boast about his success or hobbies, even when we are pressed for time to finish our schedule
- e) His time allocation----respect his time
- f) His priorities
- g) His objectives and goals
- a) If he is a listener, brief him and then follow up with a memo.
- b) If he is a reader, put our proposals in a report and then discuss them with him.
- c) Detailed or condensed form
- d) Keep him informed
- e) See him in the morning, afternoon or late evening
- f) Break the ice by talking about his hobbies or sport
- g) Ask him what he likes to do
- a) We are dumb not to consult him on important issues and major problems
- b) We are learning and communicating when we ask him for help where we are unclear or uncertain of the methods of work that he wants.
- c) Allow him to point out our mistakes and to guide us as a mentor
- d) Touch base with him every now and then
- a) Contribute to his achievements
- b) See him as an ally
- c) Make him as effective and as achieving as possible
- d) Appreciate his pressures and goals
- e) Focus to provide solutions for problems
- a) Foster credibility with him by being reliable even in small matters
- b) Have integrity---don’t shade the truth and play down issues
- c) Cultivate good manners as they are the lubricating oil that smoothes over friction
- d) Show proper respect for him and his position
- e) Overrate him rather than undervalue him
- f) Assume that he has the talent and accomplishments to rise to his current position
- g) Allow him to talk incessantly about his successes even if our work piles up
- h) Make him feel good---we invariably like the people who boost our self-esteem.
- a) Surprise him
- b) Be at odds with his priorities and objectives
- c) Assumed too much but clarify with him
- d) Hide problems from him
- e) Fit him into any preconceived mould
- f) Ever run him down with people in the office
- g) Catch him at a bad time
- h) Be brash and confrontational in discussing issues with him
- i) Be too proud to say that we do not know and ask for help from him
- j) Concentrate too hard to impress---we will end up working too hard and too long
- k) Lose our cool with him
- 1) Subtly publicising and recording your achievements, thereby showing your prowess and that you are a formidable opponent
- Eg. Subtly email your supervisor and cc it to the Big Boss regarding your accomplishments. Write: I am happy to inform you . . . or I am glad to inform you. . . .
- The objective is to keep the Big Boss informed about your good work.
- 2)Forming your allies
- 3)Training your staff
- 4)Gathering intelligence on any potential enemy
- 5)Instilling fear in your enemy
- 6) Being politically sensitive
- 4.3. Always find ways to have access to the Big Boss
- This is vitally important. You must prepare in advance to pitch your spin (ideas, position, slant, jokes, etc). You have only 20 seconds to do that in the lift, social meeting, his office or wherever. The idea is to make the Big Boss notice you and have favourable impression of you.
- Without direct access to the Big Boss you are always at a disadvantage as you cannot give your side of your story to him.
- 5.1 What can you do when you are being attacked?
- When attacked, act swiftly to protect yourself. Do not let the testing grow. Nip it in the bud immediately by counterattacking. You could save yourself from having to fight a battle later on.
- Stand tall. Do not run. Do not allow others to bully you, to wound your ego or to undermine your confidence. Protect your ego, your self-confidence and yourself by confronting them. Fight if you must. You cannot avoid others from probing you. Respond by standing up to their probing and by attacking in order to prevent them from starting a battle with you. You must always make it very costly for the enemy to attack you so that they will think twice before launching an offensive. The enemy will leave you alone only if they are certain that it is not to their advantage to attack you.
- 5.2 Attack is a better form of Defence
- You owe it to yourself to defend yourself. To do this, always remember to take the initiative, for the art of defence lies in the planning of an attack and the secret of defence is attack. Attack is always a better form of defence and requires offensive tactics such as:
- (a) manage your supervisor
- (b) the building-up of ammunitions and weapons,
- (c) counterattacking
- e.g. by persistently asking relevant questions
- 5.3 Remember not to Fight Unnecessarily
- (a) Do not attack unless you have initially probed and tested your enemy.
- (b) Do not fight before you are fully aware of the details of the situation.
- (c) Do not fight unless there is a good chance of winning.
- (d) Do not fight unless there is no other alternative.
- (e) Do not fight unless you wish to gain some definite advantage.
- (f) Do not start a fight out of annoyance or desire for revenge.
- (g) To conquer without fighting is better than trying to win by fighting every inch of the way.
- (a) Fighting has no rigid rules. Always be flexible and innovative in battle.
- (b) Attack the enemy’s weaknesses, avoid his strengths.
- (c) Attack from a vantage position. Do not reveal where you plan to attack.
- (d) Concentrate the attack on specific targets.
- (e) Move faster than the enemy as speed is essential in any battle.
- (f) To lure the enemy out of his fortress, attack some of his vulnerable positions.
- (g) You must choose the battle ground and lure your enemy to it.
- (h) In a battle, it is vital to anticipate the enemys plan.
Time and again, it has been found that good work alone in the office is not good enough. The best action for you is to take the initiative to build your defences (see items 4.1, 4.2, 4.3) before there is an attack. For some people this comes naturally. But if you choose not to take the initiative to prepare for your defence, you may find that you have little choice but to counterattack when the battle has started.
When you counterattack you must be prepared to face the consequences:
a) Change to a different division or section, if you can.
b) Slog it out. This is no fun. It is terrible and miserable.
c) Quit---but do so only after you have got the new job. Never quit without a job! You are always at a great disadvantage during the interview if you are without a job.
7.1 Never quit without a job!
You must never `quit when the going is tough’ or ‘resign from the painful field' or `flee in danger's hour'. Never quit simply because it is problematical. You must never go out of the situation simply because it is difficult.
Look for direction and take active steps to change your position inside or outside the organization. That means that you must act and do whatever you can---use your intelligence, experience, consult family, friends, Internet, experts, prayers, apply for jobs---to find a solution to your problem.
You have to trust that “good” can come amidst your adversity just as crushed grapes can produce delicious wine. You know:
- no hardened ground can bear fruit if it is not broken up by the plough;
- no grain can become bread if it is not grounded and baked;
- no rough diamond can be transformed to its true brilliance if it is not cut and polished and