Chapter 9. Questions That Manage Upwards

We have all had those dreams where we finally get to tell our lousy bosses what we think of them. You walk right into his office and let him have it and, afterwards, walk out feeling like a million bucks. Of course, if you did that in the real world, it's more likely you would walk out of your boss's office unemployed. The good news is that your relationship with your boss is just that: a relationship, requiring the collaboration and input of two people. It is a relationship that can change for the better, even if it is only you who does the changing.

One of the most frequent scenarios we encounter in our training programs is the one in which people feel frustrated and hamstrung by their bosses. So many times over the years we have worked with clients who say, "If only my boss would get off my back, then I could do my job." Or, "I don't know what she wants from me—she has me going in 10 directions at once." Or, "He never gives me any feedback, so I don't know where I stand." We understand this frustration, because we too have worked for bosses who lack high-quality leadership and communication skills. We have even had bosses who are outright mean or incompetent. The purpose of this chapter, then, is to help you realize that, ultimately, you have a significant amount of power in the relationship between you and your boss.

When you hear your boss say, "I am only as good as my people," take that phrase to heart. It means that you have the ability ...

Get Questions That Get Results: Innovative Ideas Managers Can Use to Improve Their Teams' Performance now with the O’Reilly learning platform.

O’Reilly members experience books, live events, courses curated by job role, and more from O’Reilly and nearly 200 top publishers.