Managing the boss - who bypasses you

What do you do, if your boss bypasses you and starts interacting with your team?

If you chose to ignore this new development, then there is no need to worry any further :)

Else continue reading please ..

Let us look at 4 different situations between you and Boss, with both your current management styles being either Enabler or Driver.

The basic idea is to first determine which of these situations applie
s to you. What you can do, will vary accordingly.

Situation 1 - Boss as Driver. You as Enabler.

Boss is overly concerned about something that the team is responsible for and
- feels starved of progress updates from your side
- feels that your team needs to see the urgency even more clearly
- feels that you are not doing enough

You on the other hand (assuming you are doing a good job)
- are protecting the team, so that they can deliver without interference
- are building some buffers for a rainy day
- want to retain your autonomy, without which, you will be ineffective.

If boss is driver and you are enabler - it is wise to yield.

Let her have unrestricted time with your team. Be as open and transparent as required. Chances are that this will convince her, not to go looking for hidden nuggets next time.

This will also calibrate her on how much of a 'mother hen' you really are.

Situation 2 - Boss as Enabler. You as Enabler.

In Boss's frame of things, it is perfectly OK to interact thus
- for both of you add value, in different ways
- she is trying to demonstrate to all, how everyone must connect and cross-connect
 - she is just getting to know her extended reports, a little better
You on the other hand are wondering
- why you boss is doing your job
- if from here on, everyone will bypass you and directly reach for this friendly being
- How you will now use the excuse, 'Because Boss said so!'

If both of you are enablers - there is always place for both of you, as far as the team is concerned.

But make sure that in the comfort created, team does not lose sight of the challenges and priorities. Perhaps, you can complement your boss's style by moving towards being a driver. Look to use the organisation's larger priorities, as the basis, if possible.

Why? Because, this is also time to wonder, that if your boss's boss is seeing both of you as enablers, then isn't there one extra enabler in the chain?

Situation 3 - Boss as Enabler. You as Driver.

To Boss's mind, you are first and foremost accountable for the team's performance
- you are expected to focus on results, not on keeping everyone happy
- subject matter experts, in your team, are a valuable resource. They do not belong only to you
- you need to go out on your team's behalf and make the connections that it needs.

You on the other hand are thinking
- how am in different from a Program Manager?
- Can I say NO to my boss? How? How much?
- I have never done this before

If boss is enabler and you are the driver - then results come first. In the interest of results, if you need to push back and say No to your boss, be clear, that it is your job to do so, rather than just being agreeable.

In this situation - and the next one too - you are required to play driver. This is a new role for many senior managers, who have previously only managed headcount. This is where they have to get out of their comfort zones and learn some new skills.

It is important to sharpen the ability to work across boundaries and managing with influence, as you go about making connections for your team, to deliver the results that they need to deliver.

Why? Because you also know that just beating up the team, beyond a point, only gives fewer and fewer useful returns.

Situation 4 - Boss as Driver. You as Driver.

Boss feels that she has no other way
- of ascertaining performance and contribution of individuals, including you
- of getting a feel of the grass roots developments in real time
- of rapidly responding to new threats

You on the other hand are thinking
- Am I needed here?
- Can I say NO to my boss? How? How much?
- I have never done this before.

Finally, if both of you are drivers, then it is usually a fire-fighting situation, that demands such a forceful way of managing things. Fire-fighting always requires, that you do what it takes.

Nevertheless, find all available opportunities to nurture your team while still holding fort as a driver.

On the other hand - if this becomes a business as usual, way of managing things, do wonder - when time permits - Am I needed here?

What do you say?