Try the all-new QuickBooks Online for FREE.  No credit card required.

10 Rules for Managing Your Remote Boss

Document Sample
10 Rules for Managing Your Remote Boss Powered By Docstoc
					10 Rules for Managing Your Remote Boss
Managing the boss is critical to every employee's career. If you are a manager of an
overseas subsidiary and your boss is 5,000 – 10,000 miles away, managing him or her is
critical not only for your own career but also for the subsidiary you manage.

An often-quoted cardinal rule is never to let your boss be surprised in front of others.
Outstanding performers do more than simply keeping the boss briefed on significant
developments. As well as carrying out instructions, they also take the initiative in key
areas that will affect the outlook of the local operation.

When you are managing a subsidiary, you will often find yourself dealing with
increasing ambiguity and paradox. React fast or take time to consider? Grasp a new
opportunity or stay operationally focused? Control or collaborate? Do what works best
locally or what is mandated from 10,000 miles away?

For those managers who opt for unquestioning obedience and dependence on the idea
that ‘head office knows best’, they can expect the idiom ‘plan or be planned for’ to come
true. Most head office strategic plans are only performance improvement plans. While it
is necessary for survival to meet performance expectations – “credibility comes out of the
barrel of performance” as one manager remarked – it is not sufficient to secure subsidiary
survival. Even superior performance is not enough.

That is not to say that the task stops at reputation management. More multinational
companies no longer view their subsidiaries as dumb sub-contractors. Head office may
think they know best and certainly they have every right to prevent self-serving
initiatives or local empire building. However, the evidence of high performing
subsidiaries is that local managers see autonomy as a disadvantage. They are instead
looking for increased influence so that they can grasp opportunities within the integrated
global organisation. Their actions are not designed to undermine the parent but to
increase the parent’s reliance on them by genuinely adding value. This leadership
position requires executives that, having built credibility, display an attitude of “Ask for
forgiveness, not permission” towards their boss.

‘Multiple Boss Syndrome’ is one of the reasons why subsidiary managers cannot shirk
their responsibility to get beyond short-term performance optimisation. The turnover of
subsidiary managers is about one third that of their bosses. It appears that many are not
actively seeking promotion by moving abroad. An important implication is that the local
manager knows more about what’s going on, where ‘the bodies are buried’ and where
opportunities lie than do the succession of bosses who rely on second-hand reports in
their briefing sessions. Indeed it is not uncommon for Executive Coaching assignments to
have to focus on repairing damage caused by a subsidiary manager failing to manage his
new boss’s transition and quickly finding not only his job, but also his organisation’s
position marginalised.
As well as proactively interacting with their boss, high performers are organisationally
aware of where their subsidiary stands. Such political awareness is important to the art of
getting things done. Four types of subsidiary typically exist.

Lone Stars are stand-alone subsidiaries with a basic mandate and no significant
influence elsewhere in the organisation.

Passive Stars are typically dependent on headquarters for taking responsibility for
selected parts of the value chain.

Dominant Stars or product / service specialists can influence other subsidiaries,
including corporate headquarters in a particular area of excellence.

Constellation Stars are strategically independent, influencing and being influenced by
other subsidiaries, including headquarters, as they develop business lines in selected
market areas.

High performing managers evaluate where they stand in their mandate and defend,
consolidate and develop. They understand that a couple of visits to headquarters each
year is not enough. They get out to each market they serve and learn to appreciate the
dynamics in each. Even if the corporation has not explicitly stated it, multinationals buy
their subsidiaries’ creative effort towards the group as a whole as well as the operational
requirements of the ‘minimum contract’ indicated in the budget.

10 Rules for Managing Your Boss

■   You can’t change your boss.
■   Make his/her job easier.
■   Make promises you can keep. Then keep them!
■   Give your boss information just the way he/she wants it.
■   Invite him/her to some team sessions.
■   No surprises in front of others.
■   Agree the focus of your efforts and manage realistic expectations.
■   Don’t underestimate your boss however frustrated you may be.
■   Help your boss answer exceptionally well to people he/she is answerable to.
■   Be involved in the transitional on-boarding of the new boss. Listen with an open
    mind as much as defending your subsidiary’s mandate, highlighting its
    consolidation accomplishments and promoting its development.

About DBM
DBM ( is a leading global outplacement, coaching, and career
management firm providing services to private and public companies, not-for-profits
and governments. When companies make decisions that impact careers, DBM provides
services to support the organization, the employees who stay and the employees who
need to leave. DBM also helps organizations and leaders improve their performance
through coaching. DBM has a 40-year legacy of creating innovative best practice
solutions, most of which have become industry standards. DBM has 200 locations
around the globe serving 85 countries and has partnered with 70 percent of the Fortune
500 and 80 percent of the Global 500 companies.

Worldwide Headquarters
750 Third Avenue
28th Floor
New York, NY 10017
United States
Tel: 212-692-7700
Fax: 212-297-0426