4 Boss Types—and How to Work with Them
January 27, 2020
To get ahead in your career, you can’t sit back and wait for your boss to adapt to you. You need to take the reins and learn how to manage up.
Only 30% of bosses adapt to their employees, says Mary Abbajay in How to Manage Your Manager. “Stop waiting for the unicorn and deal with the boss you have,” she says.
Managing up isn’t about flattery. It’s about understanding how your boss likes to work and adapting to their style.
According to Abbajay, most bosses fit into one of these four work styles. Here’s how to actively manage each of them so you can build a strong relationship and both get what you need. In most cases, your career depends on it.
The small, but powerful step that 99% of employees miss
Don’t know what’s important to your boss? Ask. Sit down, have a conversation, and find out what their pet peeves and priorities are.
It’s a small step, but a surefire way to stand out. Of the 5,000 managers Abbajay’s talked to over the years, she says she can count on one hand those who have had an employee ask them about their work preferences and style.
Your manager will be pleased with your proactive approach, and you’ll have the information you need to work smarter.
Whether you take this step or not, use the boss guide below to figure out how your boss works. From there, you can jive with their workflow, work smarter, and get the most out of the relationship.
4 Boss Styles You Need to Know
“Advancers” are managers that thrive on getting a lot done quickly. They are task-oriented, pragmatic, and make decisions quickly.
These fast-paced bosses can come off as impatient and in a hurry, so don’t slow them down with casual conversation when they’re in execution mode. Be brief, business-like, and decisive. This shows them you are a go-to person to move the ball forward.
Also known as “Enthusiasts”, the “Influencers” are the cheerleaders—inspirational, high-energy manaers. Like the Advancers, Influencers like to move things along quickly, but they are far more people-oriented.
An Influencer “loves to take risks, loves to innovate, loves to do different things, and wants it done with people along their side,” says Abbajay.
Manage your Influencer boss by being their partner in crime. When you show a willingness to move at their pace, with high energy and commitment, you confirm you’re working with them as a thought partner and an ally.
“Evaluators” have a different energy than the first two. These managers take things slowly and are efficient perfectionists: “measure twice, measure twice again, and cut once,” says Abbajay.
When working with an Evaluator, remember that they care about getting things right—Every. Single. Time. So your job is to be equally detail-oriented and deliberate. You may not always be perfect (who is?!) but they are sure to notice and appreciate your precision.
“Harmonizers” are all about people. They are the managers who want to build a great team and make sure everyone feels happy, secure, and valued.
Knowing that this type of boss cares so much about people, be sure to echo that approach with a focus on teamwork. It also helps to consistently communicate how you’re feeling, as the boss will be pleased when you’re happy, and will work to make things right if you’re not.
For more advice on how to manage up, watch How to Manage Your Manager.
Other LinkedIn Learning courses you may be interested in:
- Managing Up with Roberta Mateson
- Succeeding in a New Role by Managing Up with BigThink
- Bad Boss: Dealing with a Difficult Manager with Chris Croft