Boss Talk

This is the time when many employees receive midyear performance reviews. Although these assessments are a way for bosses to manage their subordinates, workers should keep in mind that they must “manage the boss,” as well. In this edition of Drucker Apps, you’ll find tools to help you understand why managing upward is crucial to your own success, the importance of adjusting to your boss’s working style, the surprising power of subordinates in knowledge-driven organizations and what critical questions you should be asking those in charge. These insights—at once timely and timeless—are based on the ideas and ideals of the late Peter F. Drucker, the father of modern management.

Don’t suck up, manage up

“Subordinates do not, as a rule, rise to position and prominence over the prostrate bodies of incompetent bosses”— Peter F. Drucker, The Effective Executive

Excerpt from The Effective Executive reprinted by permission of HarperCollins. Copyright ©2002 by HarperCollins: all rights reserved.

Who’s the boss?

“Bosses…are individuals and are entitled to do their work in the way they do it best. And it is incumbent on the people who work with them to…adapt themselves to the way the bosses are effective.”— Peter F. Drucker, Classic Drucker

  • Why you should adapt to your boss’s ways.Read more here.
  • Hear Harvard’s John Gabarro discuss how technology is cutting into critical one-on-one time with those in charge.

The power of today’s subordinate

“Just as an orchestra can sabotage even the ablest conductor…a knowledge organization can easily sabotage even the ablest, let alone the most autocratic, superior.”— Peter F. Drucker, Management Challenges for the 21st Century

  • Why today’s employee often knows more than the boss. Read more here.
  • Listen to Donald Keough, former president of Coca-Cola Co., describe the best way to bring the boss bad news.

Two crucial questions to ask your boss

“What do I do and what do my people do that helps you do your job? And what do we do that . . . makes life more difficult for you?”— Peter F. Drucker, Managing for the Future

  • Why you should never underestimate the boss. Read more here.
  • Watch Peter Drucker discuss questions you should ask yourself before asking something of your superiors.