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Managing your manager

Topic: Business
Ken Kousen

Every employee in a hierarchical organization deals with managers on a regular basis. Managers directly control what you do and how you do it, but their influence extends beyond that—your relationship with your manager affects how you are seen in the organization, how future assignments are awarded, and whether your work is viewed as successful or not.

Many times, management decisions can seem capricious, arbitrary, or frustrating, but it doesn't have to be that way. In this three-hour hands-on course, Java Champion Ken Kousen shares the tips and tricks he’s learned in 30+ years interacting with managers at all levels, from beginners to C-level executives. Along the way, Ken shows how adapting the "tit for tat" solution to the iterated prisoner's dilemma problem will help you "train" your manager to anticipate your reactions and take them into account. You’ll leave knowing how to build a relationship with your manager that can be relied upon when crises happen, in a way that preserves your own sense of self respect, and helps you get what you need, when you need it.

What you'll learn-and how you can apply it

By the end of this live online course, you’ll understand:

  • That the reason your manager is so bad is often based on how they got the job
  • How your manager's world differs from yours and how to approach your manager with that in mind
  • How fear plays into a manager's job and how to avoid making it worse
  • Strategies for the iterated prisoner's dilemma problem that relate to interactions with management
  • How to successfully develop a relationship with your manager through a combination of training them to respond the way you want and making arguments likely to be heard and understood

And you’ll be able to:

  • Choose techniques from game theory to express satisfaction and dissatisfaction to your manager in a nonhostile, productive way
  • Make arguments for what you want based on personality typing systems and communicate your needs in a way that's likely to be heard and understood
  • Identify potential problem areas in management relationships and prepare responses
  • Feel confident when working closely with managers, knowing the loyalty relationship is firmly in place
  • Learn to leverage a few best practices that will substantially improve your relationship with your manager

This training course is for you because...

  • You want to have visible, outward support from your manager to improve your long-term success.
  • You have managers at your job whose decisions affect your work.
  • You need a nonaggressive, productive way to object to your manager's decisions without escalating into a crisis.
  • You need to figure out your manager's communication preferences in actual situations to better predict their responses to your requests.


Further Learning:

About your instructor


The timeframes are only estimates and may vary according to how the class is progressing

Challenges of management in hierarchical organizations (25 minutes)

  • Lecture: Why our managers are so frequently bad; characteristics of good managers; the difficulties of measuring management success; the question of money
  • Hands-on exercise: Assess a manager's priorities through role playing

Building the relationship between you and your manager (25 minutes)

  • Lecture: The issue of loyalty; managing fear; when to make your manager look good; the dangers of breaking the chain of command
  • Hands-on exercise: Explore how fear influences managerial behavior

Break (10 minutes)

The iterated prisoner's dilemma problem (25 minutes)

  • Lecture: History of the iterated prisoner's dilemma (IPD) problem; successful and stable solutions; IPD in history; IPD in the current world; applying IPD solutions to management interactions
  • Hands-on exercise: Play with an IPD simulator to try out strategies

Understanding communication preferences (25 minutes)

  • Lecture: Personality typing systems—features and misuse; identifying positions on the four scales; primary versus secondary characteristics; the Kiersey Temperament Sorter; when to use these techniques and when not to
  • Hands-on exercise: Identify personality preferences based on behavior

Break (10 minutes)

Constructive loyalty how-tos (30 minutes)

  • Lecture: Good enough answers; your boss is not your friend; your boss is not your enemy; reflective listening skills
  • Hands-on exercise: Use reflective listening to mimic engagement when you don't really care

Special topics (10 minutes)

  • Lecture: The micromanager; working remotely; so-called "flat" organizations; structural issues for women and underrepresented minorities

Additional material (10 minutes)

  • Lecture: The best way to tell someone they are completely wrong; advice for the future; resources for future study

Wrap up and Q&A (10 minutes)