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Episode 36 — How to Manage Your Boss

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About this episode

Life would be great…if it wasn’t for my boss.

You wouldn’t be alone in thinking that. But let’s face it, bosses are a necessary part of life. And they can serve many useful purposes. So how can you make sure they make your life better, not worse? In this episode, we will discuss how to manage your boss in such a way that your life and work get better.

Hosted by Bitesize Bio’s own Dr. Nick Oswald featuring Kenneth Vogt of Vera Claritas.

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INTRO (00:08):
This is the happy scientist podcast. Each episode is designed to make you more focused, more productive, and more satisfied in the lab. You can find us online at Your hosts are Kenneth Vogt, founder of the executive coaching from Vera Claritas and Dr. Nick Oswald, PhD bio-scientist and founder of bitesizebio.

Nick Oswald (00:39):
Hello and welcome to the happy scientist podcast from bitesizebio if you want to become a happier, healthier, and more productive scientist, you’re in the right place. I’m Nick Oswald the founder of And with me is the driving force of this podcast. Kenneth Vogt my friend, mentor and founder of the coaching company, Vera Claritas, today’s episode is on a topic that’s a personal favorite of mine. It’s called how to manage your boss. So Ken, how do we manage our boss?

Kenneth Vogt (01:12):
Well, I love that it’s one of your personal favorites because Nick is a boss and here he’s telling us he likes to be managed. And a lot of, a lot of people are afraid of that. They think, oh, I can’t manage my boss. That works the other way around, you know, and you know, there’s that, that old adage that everybody serves a master. And, and that’s how we often look at a boss. Like they, they just have this, this almost unnatural control over me and over my life. And, and they, they take away my decision-making power and, and they, they take away my freedom there. And, and we paint all these negative pictures about somebody who is our boss. And part of that is, is just, you know, just kinda meaning things. You know, it’s just making fun of a situation, but sometimes people are really afraid and, you know, then maybe it doesn’t come to the surfaces, fear of their boss, but they fear the scenario.

Kenneth Vogt (02:14):
They fear the relationship and, you know, they feel like they’re at risk. I have to walk on eggshells around this person, or I have to count tab of them. I have to, I have to genuflect at the altar every time I see them, you know, and they don’t know how to escape that. And, and they don’t want to live that way. It’s not making their career fun. And, and other folks are looking at this going, man, I can’t wait. I can’t wait until I’m the boss. Oh, well, I’m gonna, I’m going to show these people, you know, and again, that’s not really a healthy attitude either. Now it’s one thing that is like, look, I’d like to be the boss, because I really think I could make some, some useful and important changes around here and it, okay. That’s great. How has having ambition and have vision about what you want for the future, but for right now, your path to becoming a boss is going to be through dealing with your boss.

Kenneth Vogt (03:11):
And even if you don’t want to be the boss and you don’t have to have that desire, there’s a lots of possibilities for, for for your career. You know, you could, you could be headed down a more technical path where, you know, you’re more concerned about becoming a senior scientist than becoming you know, somebody who’s in charge of other people. You’re still gonna have a boss and you’re going to need that boss. So the question to ask then is like, well, wait a minute. Why would I need to manage my boss? Well, think about it. What can your boss do for you? A lot of things, a boss can, can be a mentor. And if you’re fortunate enough to have a boss who could serve as a mentor to you, that, that, you know, one that you really feel is qualified and that you appreciate.

Kenneth Vogt (04:00):
I mean, that’s, that’s a wonderful scenario, but even if you don’t have that, a boss can provide you with resources and resources might be, you know, things that take budget, like, you know, equipment or, or new hires or things like that. But they also can assign resources, things that are already there. You know, you, you can get access to lab time. You can get access to certain people and all that will come through your boss and your boss will manage that. They’ll handle that stuff for you. If you bother to manage them, if you’re making known to them, the things that you need. And, and it’s not just telling your boss your problems. A lot of times the boss, a lot of times the boss doesn’t want to hear about problems, but they want to hear about a solutions. You know? So if you can say, look, I got this problem, but here’s the solution I’ve come up with.

Kenneth Vogt (04:55):
And if you could do ask for me, that’ll take care of my problem. And they’re like, oh, this is great. You know, I didn’t just have a problem with dumped on me. I all, I all, I’m all it’s happening. There is I’m being assigned to task. So you might look at that and think, wait a minute, the boss assigns tasks. That’s what they do. You know, they do that all day long and they get tired and they’d love to escape from that. And they have somebody else finally tell them, so they don’t have to make another decision so that they don’t have to come up with another solution. You’re solving a problem for them. But again, just focusing on the power where this is for you, why you need to manage your boss, think of all the things that your boss could do for you.

Kenneth Vogt (05:40):
Now, you might immediately click into a mode of, yeah, I can think of all the things I wish my boss should do for me because my boss isn’t that great. Okay, good. It’s still good for you to be aware of what is possible. And sometimes our attitude about our boss thinking all the, you know, they don’t do anything at all. For me, not necessarily the truth. Perhaps you need to broaden your, your perspective a bit. Maybe you need to look a little, little more broadly and see, well, what does this person do for me? What do they get done for me? What have they already put in place that benefits me? And when you see that you’ll realize, okay, I, that that is helpful. But now think about what, if you could have more influence over those things and you can, it’s just a matter of, of getting engaged with it and being aware of it.

Kenneth Vogt (06:33):
So we’re going to talk today about how to develop that awareness, to how to sharpen your perception of what’s going on, what you see in the relationship between you and your boss, and how to see things from your bosses perspective and why that’s useful and give you a lot of tools that at the end of the day, you’ll realize, you know, I can take, I can take this person in any direction I want to they’ll go anywhere. I, I, I direct them now. I’m not saying this in, in, in a way of like manipulating someone. Cause then, you know, you can use this for evil. It’s true, but don’t use it, use it for good, use it, get to get your major objectives accomplished and not just your objectives, but, but your boss’s objectives, your, your lab, group’s objective your university’s objectives, your company’s objectives.

Kenneth Vogt (07:27):
You can be part of that whole process and you can get noticed for that. And in managing your boss, your boss, isn’t going to feel controlled if you do it well, he’s going to feel helped. Or he or she, and they’re going to feel like this is a person that I can work with. This is a person that I can entrust with resources is they’re going to make good use of them. It’s going to be a good investment on my part. So it’ll all be helpful. So let me start with considering that you, dear listener, maybe coming from different perspectives and some, some of you just, you don’t have any direct reports of your own. You don’t actually do any managing of anybody. So from your perspective, it’s very clean. Every interaction with another person is always about somebody who is my superior. So everything I do is about managing a boss.

Kenneth Vogt (08:23):
So you might think, well, I’m the most powerless person, right? No, here’s the person with the least baggage, you can look straight at everything I’m doing is about managing a boss. So you can, you can put your full focus into that. The next group of you will be some where you have some direct reports. Maybe you have a lab assistant. Maybe you have have a a grad student, or are there are other, other folks that, that are under your assignment. And whether they’re permanently under your assignment ended, that is that they directly report to you for their, as their job title or they report to you on the project. So now you’re in a position where you’re managing other people. You’re going to, if there are any good at all, they’re going to be attempting to manage you. So you get to see a perspective there, you get to be on the other side of it.

Kenneth Vogt (09:16):
See, well, what happens when, I mean, this person is always telling me, I need more lab time. I need to have more time at the microscope. You got to, you’ve got to give it to me. And you’re like, man, this person is just, just crying about this all the time. He never let up and then realized, you know, you could be that person to someone else. And how, how are you reacting to that approach? Whereas you have other people that seem easy to deal with like, well, this person is never really a problem. I mean, they do ask for things, but when they do, they come to me and say, Hey, I need this because X, Y, and Z. And here’s what I can offer in, you know, in return, no, you hear that and go, I like that. I like hearing that kind of stuff.

Kenneth Vogt (09:57):
That makes it easier for me. Now, then you realize, wait a minute, I could be doing that. I could do that with my boss or any number of bosses. And you may have more than one. So, you know, you start to see, see something, the third person, maybe you are the boss, you are Nick as well. Nick Oswald started to bitesizebio and he runs bitesizebio. And the buck stops here. And he’s like, well, I don’t know what I was. I thought it was funny when Nick said, I, oh, I like this episode, how to manage your bus. And I thought, yeah, but you’re not going to hear how to manage your boss. You’re going to hear how to be managed, which might sound interesting to you and Nick, but you might think, well, but I don’t have a boss to manage, but you know what, Nick, you do have a boss to manage.

Kenneth Vogt (10:41):
We all answer to somebody and that somebody might be the customer or our client, or or you know whoever gave us the grant, you know it might be head of a university. It might be, it might be a CEO of a company. You know, there’s always somebody out there who ultimately is, is setting the agenda for what you need to accomplish. It might be the marketplace in general, you know, I’m here, I’m here to serve people who have this medical condition. You know, there’s always somebody there. And so you can, you still have the opportunity to have some influence with them. And, and part of the process of having influences to understand their perspective. And we’re going to talk about that in some detail. So having put that all out there, Nick, you still think this is one of your favorite episodes.

Nick Oswald (11:48):
I would say that from my I’ve been on both sides of the equation being the, you know, now I’m the boss, but it just gives me a different perspective. I remember what it was, what I was like. And I was a terrible person to manage on the, I’m sorry to my other well, depends different situations. It was th it was different, but in some settings I was, I was not a good person to manage. And in some sense it was okay. But have I, what all boils down to is that, you know, whether you’re the boss or whatever part of the team, you are everyone, you’re part of a system that is trying to achieve a certain goal. And everyone has got the, you know, ideally in an ideal world has the same goal in mind, and everyone was just playing a different part.

Nick Oswald (12:36):
Like the different people in a football team all have different jobs. And it’s the boss’s job is to help meet the teamwork better and to help make sure the team has, is as, as is doing, as reaching the goal that it needs to reach. And so feedback from the team is really important. You can’t do it, blindly it for me. Anyway, the feedback from my team is really important because if I don’t get feedback from them, I, I, if I don’t, if they don’t transmit their pain to me, when something’s not working and they just absorb it, that doesn’t help me because it doesn’t help me to see what’s going on and to fix it and to make it better. Yeah.

Kenneth Vogt (13:22):
Well, this, this segues well into the next point I wanted to make. So the question to ask is what can you do for your boss? Your boss has you in their mind is you’re, you’re a tool, but you’re also an observer out there in the world. You’re their eyes and ears. You’re the person at the bench. You’re the one seeing the, the, the most fundamental issues that have to do with whatever objective you’re trying to achieve as a group. So you, you really are important to them, even if, even if you have a boss that isn’t evolved enough to realize they should treat you as important, you are important to them whether they value it or not is another issue. But even if they don’t value it, you’re still important to them. From a practical standpoint, you still matter from a practical standpoint.

Kenneth Vogt (14:15):
So whether or not they get it, that’s, you know, that’s their problem, but, but you got to get it. You got to understand, I matter in this system and, and it matters that I transmit good, clear information to my boss for the sake of the system. So, you know, if you have any, any hesitation to help a boss, because you think this person’s a jerk, this person is selfish. This person’s a narcissist, but we hear that kind of talk lately, you know, and you know, it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter. Yeah. You can make a big thing out of that. You can, you can tell yourself all kinds of stories about what a horrible person your boss is, but they’re probably not 100% horrible. They’re probably not Hitler horrible. They’re not Mao Tse-tung . They’re not Stalin. They’re not Pol pot. You know, that, I mean, there’s a limit.

Kenneth Vogt (15:17):
It feels like, all right, this person may have a lot of flaws, but they are basically doing the job and that job needs to be done. And you need somebody to be doing that job. So, so now you gotta think about this, all right, well, they need help to do their job. And you may be thinking, they’re all like, oh boy, they sure do well, good. If that’s the case, then help them. Now. I’m not talking about, you know, don’t be a sycophant here. You know, it’s not, it’s, it’s, it’s not like I’ll just, just countdown. Do whatever they ask, whatever they tell you. Just yes or no, sir. That’s not it. Cause ultimately that’s not to your advantage. You can’t, you can’t allow yourself to just be disappeared. Like you don’t exist in, in your input was so insignificant that it is over the of mentioned you, do, you do want your efforts to be noticed and not just by your boss, maybe even beyond that, you, it might be by your peers.

Kenneth Vogt (16:14):
It might be by other, other people in positions of authority. But, but the point is is that if all you’re doing is being a yes, man, that that doesn’t serve your purpose. But that doesn’t mean that you have to, you know, get a, you get a chest up and be all you know, I’m going to do what I want and I’m, you know, I’m not gonna, I’m not gonna bend over for anybody. I’m not going to serve anybody. Like, yeah, you are. We all are. Even your boss is serving somebody. And even Nick serves people. He is serving the community. So we’re, we’re all in service to others and it’s, and it’s a good thing. And it’s, it doesn’t have to be painful. So, you know, don’t confuse these, you know, folks that are just being boot lickers, then it doesn’t work. It doesn’t, it doesn’t actually move the group forward.

Kenneth Vogt (17:11):
And it certainly doesn’t move you forward. Okay. But putting all of that part aside, you realize, okay, what could I do for my boss? Well, you can be a team player. You could, you could look at teamwork and, and process it that through the, through the lens of how can I be a team player? How could I make the teamwork start with me? What can I do to be an example in my group to take things forward. So now that’s when I look indirect, but if you show yourself to be a good team player on display in front of others, you’re already helping your boss and they’re going to, yeah. Even if they don’t notice you personally, they’re going to notice that impact. And they’re going to care about that impact because it’s good for them. So, so even if you think this person is just totally wrapped up in themselves and they’re not going to even care about me, they may, even if they don’t care about you, they will care about the results you’re getting.

Kenneth Vogt (18:16):
So, so start pondering. What results could I be getting that would be useful to the boss would be helpful in getting in, moving them forward and moving forward, the project that, that they’re being held responsible for, and ultimately that’s going to help you. And, and the thing is, if your boss is noticing, especially if they’re self-absorbed well, then it’s probably pretty obvious that other people are going to notice too. So you’re not doing this only for your boss. It’s good for you too. And you gotta, you gotta get clear in your head. If, if you have a boss that you really think is not a good boss, you know, that maybe you feel they shouldn’t even have the position, or maybe you feel there are better choices for it, but it’s what is right now. And you might think, well, I don’t want to help this person because that, you know, if I help them, they will tend to succeed.

Kenneth Vogt (19:11):
And if they tend to succeed, they’re going to keep this job. Well, you can’t think that way you can’t be thinking, I, you know, I don’t want to help somebody who isn’t perfect at their job because the job still needs to be done. And, and you still have your broader objectives and, and who knows, but that you’re being a good subordinate may help them become a better boss. So you may actually solve your problem that way, maybe the solution isn’t to get rid of them, but to help them to help them get better at it. And, and you’d be amazed how often you can take a situation where you think this is unsaveable this person, it cannot be fixed and after a period of time, it gets better. They get better and you get more easy with the situation. And so it comes down to this exercise, some humility in, in your work.

Kenneth Vogt (20:08):
And that doesn’t mean sacrificing yourself, respect, but recognizing, well, you know what? I am playing a certain role here and better for me to just to play it. And that not be telling myself all these stories about how unfair it is or, or you know, how it should be different. Well, it’s the way it is right now. So let’s work with the way it is, and let’s bother to see it from my boss’s perspective, to get a better understanding of what the situation is really all about, because each of us has a singular perspective and that perspective is never the whole picture, not ever. So if you can, if you can make the effort to see an additional perspective and especially one, that’s a perspective that really matters in your world, like your bosses, you can, you can get a much broader understanding of what’s going on and you can see you go, you’ll be able to see problems coming sooner.

Kenneth Vogt (21:11):
You’ll, you’ll be able to, to handle problems more easily, because you have a clear idea of how things are. So that leads us to this. It means you’re going to have to get into your bosses head. You think I’ve never been in my bosses head, or I don’t want to be in my bosses head. I’ve seen that person. I it must be scary in there, but you can’t worry about that. You really, you really do need to bother to understand their perspective. And this is especially important. If this person is causing you problems or you don’t like them because you know, those are the people you’re like, I don’t want to know what’s going on in their, in their messed up little world. You’re not. Yeah, you really do. You want to understand? And, and I will warn you that you’re going to have to have a little compassion.

Kenneth Vogt (22:08):
Yeah. This is a person that’s causing you problems, but now I’ve got to feel sorry for them. And my answer is yes. And, and you know what? Think about that for just for a second. Are you really going to lose anything? If you feel sorry for a boss that’s been oppressive or has been mean, or has been selfish or has been inattentive, is it really going to hurt you? I mean, act caused you actual damage. If you have some compassion for their situation, no, you’re not gonna lose anything, but on the contrary, you’re going to gain something. You’re going to start to get why they’re being the way they’re being behavior Springs of perception. When you see the world a certain way, it’ll tell you what the logical response would be. What, what kind of, what kind of actions should I take if this is in fact how the world is, and when you see that in another person, you can also see it back, reflect it back into yourself and go, why am I reacting the way I am?

Kenneth Vogt (23:15):
Why am I being so repulsed by a micromanaging boss? Why am I getting angry about an inattentive boss? When you start to see connections, then it’s like, cause you know, the inattention or the micromanaging, that’s just the thing. But why, why this reaction? Because other people are being micromanaged by them and they don’t react like me and other people are being ignored and they’re not reacting like me. Well, let’s, it’s because the perspectives of these people are different. And so you have a choice. Your perspective is that’s something that chiseled in granite. You don’t, it doesn’t have to be the way it is. It’s just, it’s just what you have and you can broaden it. And one of the easiest way to broaden your perspective is to take an example of something close to you, someone close to you in this situation and say, how are they seeing it?

Kenneth Vogt (24:12):
What is the experience for my boss in this setting? You know, I’m having my experience and blah, I’m all about that. And you’re, you’re going to be very, you know, engaged in your own experience. And maybe not intellectually, maybe you haven’t thought it through before, but you’re still, you’re, you’re deep in the experience. But if you start to think, well, what, how’s the boss experiencing this? How is it different for them? And it’s okay to go through the process. Oh yeah. For them it’s easy for them. They’re like, yeah, I shoot I’m going to snap their fingers. And, and this has to change because they have the authority like, okay, go ahead and think about that for a minute. Okay. Well, what if I had that, well, how would it be different? How would I see the world? If, if that’s how it was for me and you know, that’s the way you take it in, you know, if you’re, if you feel reticent to, to feel what your boss is feeling, our experience with your boss is experiencing or care about what he is, he or she is experiencing make it.

Kenneth Vogt (25:09):
If I was in their position, how would I be feeling it? How would I be considering it? That’s, that’s a, that’s a segway in, if you feel like I can’t, I can’t be in my bosses head. I don’t, I just don’t get what, how they see the world. Well, then find, start by saying, if I was in their shoes, how would I see the world? And you’re, you’re still going to get some insights, even though you two may be totally different, just experiencing a new set of, of, of problems and a new set of perceptions is going to change your understanding. And I’ll make it easier for you to do things for your boss that, that they will like, and, and it’ll make it easier for you in the end to get them on your side.

Kenneth Vogt (26:01):
Okay. So one of the things to consider is that when you help your boss, get what they want, it may help you get what you want. And especially if you put that, if you make that a an objective, like how can I, how can I connect what I need to, what they need? You know, I need this, I need a certain piece of equipment. Well, show them how you having that equipment is gonna allow you to get results. They care about, see so they can see the benefits of themselves and make it easy for them to see the benefit to themselves. Don’t just go, Hey, I need X, tell him I need X. And here’s what, what happens as a result, you know, that and list off the things that matter to them. And you can only do that after you have bothered to be in, in their head, see it from their perspective and figure out what matters to them.

Kenneth Vogt (26:57):
Now, sometimes it’s actually rather easy to know what matters to someone. Cause they’ll tell you, and many bosses will say, this is what I’m trying to accomplish. And we aren’t listening, you know, because we’re all caught up in what we care about and what our objectives are and what what’s gonna make my job easier and all that you have to bother to, to consider someone else’s perspective. And, and at first blush that may feel like that’s just an extra thing I have to do now. I didn’t never, I never thought I had to do that. Now. Now I’m stuck with having to understand how other people think, well, welcome to real life. And I’m welcome to a career. This is, this is, this is a career skill you need to develop and it’s useful. It is so worth the effort. And it makes all the difference in anybody who has moved up.

Kenneth Vogt (27:48):
The ladder has figured this out and has learned these things. And some of them who may look at them and go, how on earth did they get there? Well, they, because you know, they don’t care about other people. And, and, and I’ll, I just can’t imagine them sitting around and thinking about other people’s perspectives. Well, maybe they haven’t directly, but they have intuitively they have, have worked that in and they’ve realized they have to do that. It has to happen. Now, another thing that happens when you do this, when you bother to giving your boss’s head and start to figure out some things from their perspective, you’re in a position to help other people understand your boss’s needs. So maybe some of the other people you’re working with who also answered that boss, if you can give them some insight into how your boss operates, well, now you, now, you don’t just have you against the boss.

Kenneth Vogt (28:42):
You have you plus your compatriots. You’re all working at the same thing to manage your boss. So it gets easier to manage your boss. When there’s a group of you trying to manage your boss, or maybe you can use that to, to be influential to peers of your boss, which again, may help you. If you can, if you can get one of their peers to be on board with, with something that you need, they may help influence your boss too. So again, you have the opportunity here to, to reach out in all kinds of different directions. Once you understand your boss’s needs, you can communicate that to others and it can be very good for you.

Kenneth Vogt (29:22):
Now, here’s a simple thing to think about once you’ve figured out what your boss needs and now, okay, now I know what I, what is available for me as bargaining chips. You know, I want X I’ll make sure they get Y great. So in a setting like that, where people often do is they’ll say, I want X now and later I’ll give you why that’s not the most compelling thing. You can do a better choice if it’s possible is to say, I’m going to give you Y but in the future, maybe soon in the future, or eventually I would like X, in other words, do the giving first. Now we had a whole episode about giving and not giving yourself away. And yeah, you can look back at that, that episode arms, oh yeah. Episode 30, giving it all away. So, you know, I am, I am recommending that you give, but don’t, don’t just give up everything, make sure you get something for what you give.

Kenneth Vogt (30:31):
At least eventually it doesn’t have to be a transaction right now, but there’s nothing wrong with a transactional relationship here. When both sides feel like they got a good deal. We do that all day long. You know, when you go in and you pay your $5 for that Starbucks latte you’re, you are happy to give them $5 because it’s worth more than $5 to you. They’re happy to give you that, that latte, because the $5 is worth more than the latte to them. Both sides are happy. And it’s the same thing with any other kind of, any other kind of interaction you have and the interactions you have with your boss, make sure that you’re making good deal, a good deal for yourself, but often if you can give first and then just stick some forethought, if you can give first, you’re going to be in a stronger position, you’ll actually be able to get a better you know, would, you can get back and be more.

Kenneth Vogt (31:27):
If you, if you expect them to give first, they’re going to give less. It’s just how it works. So consider how can I give more? And then I had a note here that that may sound kind of funny, but lead from the rear, that is you don’t, you don’t have to take charge of everything, but you can by example, and kind of push things along rather than pulling, you know, the boss’s job was to pull there, to pull everybody in an indirection and pull everybody together. But if you’re not that boss fine, then you push. So you get behind and push things in the directions. You’d like to see them go. And that pushing is going to be so much more effective. If you’ve bothered to notice what matters to other people and especially to your boss. One of the things that’s helpful to get in your boss’s head, you will find in episodes four, five, and six.

Kenneth Vogt (32:26):
It’s one of those. These are part of those foundational episodes we did. And those are the three episodes on recognizing the core mindsets that control your world. And I really recommend that you look back at those and listen to those. Cause you will get some insights into how people in groups see the world differently. And you’re going to recognize your boss fits into one of those groups and they might fit into a different group than you’re in. So it may not be your natural leaning to understand that group, but I I’m sure you can understand that group. And if you listen to those episodes, you will. And if you can see it, then like, ah, wait a minute. They don’t see the world this way. Like I do. They see the world that way. While if they see the world that way, how would they experience this?

Kenneth Vogt (33:15):
And you will get all these ideas. Yeah. It’ll all come clear to you. You’ll, you know, ding, ding, ding, aha. This is why they are the way they are. And this is why they do what they do or say what they say or why they’re resistant to this and why they’re open to that. And, and that’ll really help you. The second thing to consider is what you’re finding episode seven, eight, and nine, giving you homework to do here, look back at those. This is about how to discover and wheel in your charisma factors. So you can move your boss by wielding charisma. Charisma works on everybody, including bosses. And you might look at this and go. I don’t feel like I’m a very charismatic person. Well, I promise you, you do have some charisma. You just may not be aware of it. And again, you may not know where to look.

Kenneth Vogt (34:08):
And so I feel listened to those episodes. You mean, you may hear some things that are going to clue you into like, ah, ha wait a minute. I do have that, that, and I can use that. And, and if you, you use your charisma, you use charisma to get other people to help you. There’s nobody in your world that more directly will impact your work than your boss. They can provide you with a lot of help. So don’t be afraid to use charisma. And I say, use not, not misused. I’m not talking about manipulation here. I’m talking about how to properly interact with your boss in such a way that they’re more likely to do what you want and give you what you need. And, and if you’ve done your homework here, like we’ve talked about to bother, to understand their position and to learn how to understand how they think, then you’re going to be better at this and that, and you can get better and better at this.

Kenneth Vogt (35:02):
So, however good you are at it today, you can get better. So if you’re dismal at it and you think there’s no hope, oh man, there’s, low-hanging fruit. Trust me. It’s, it’ll be easy for you to get better. If you’re already pretty good at it, you can still get better and you can still get better results. It just comes down to putting a little more or a little more focus because into it, getting a little clear about what’s right in front of you and what’s available to you. So Nick have man like alone for a while here, any of the other things that,

Nick Oswald (35:41):
Yeah. So I just thought 2.1 about, you know, the perspective side of things that you’re talking about. So you have a perspective, your boss has a perspective, you’re both ostensibly shooting for the same goal. If you take it in a scientific lab context, for example, you’re the one, you know, say you’re you there’s an important technique. That’s important to your lab. You know, for for generating results. You’re the one with their w w who’s closest to doing the techniques and assuming your bosses in the office and you’re at the bench you are, they therefore are the one who’s best placed to to advise your boss there’s something that’s inefficient about that. Or some maybe there’s you know, there’s a cheaper way to do something, or maybe there’s a new technology out that could do that better.

Nick Oswald (36:37):
You’re you’re, you know, you are one of the primary people who can transmit that potential improvement to the lab systems and the labs productivity. If you, like, if you look at it in the roadway, back up to your boss, you could take the kind of, so subservient view and say, well, that’s, I can’t do that. I don’t know anything he’s the all-knowing master or she, and and I couldn’t possibly put my own because I don’t know anything. Or you could put her up the line and say, I recommend this, you know, here’s why I recommend it. And you know, and, and then you transmit the signal back up to the position in the organization that could, that has the power to make that change. Now, whether you’re that, now you’ve done your job because that you’ve you’ve you’ve made that you’ve transmitted that information.

Nick Oswald (37:33):
And now you might see one of several things happening. Maybe your boss says that’s a great idea. And does it, you know, if you’re, it’s probably for, you’re talking about saving money, then the boss will do it no bother, but you might get some resistance from your boss because they have a different perspective. They are the ones who can see what the budget of the lab is. For example, they can see the wider context other than just the just the work you’re doing and so on, but it doesn’t mean that you were wrong to you, that there was the issue. Is you putting that up the line? The issue is that that signal that they’ve received is painful because it’s not clear cut for them, or it bumps up against some other values that they have, or other restrictions that they have, but that’s their job to figure that out.

Nick Oswald (38:19):
And I’ve found a lot that that sort of set that sort of signal signals you get from the people actually doing the work is absolutely invaluable. And I, and, but it’s often painful to hear or often difficult to hear, or feels like it would be easier to just put it back down and say, you know what, we’re not buying the new machine. You keep doing this by hand because it saves me, you know, costs and the hassle of implementing a new piece of machinery or equipment or whatever. And so the way that I see it is that a good boss is someone who absorbs that information and tries as much as possible to overcome their personal inhibitions or whatever you know, th their own inhibitions about about executing on the, you know, on, on the information they receive to try and make the system overall better, even if it causes them pain to do so work, to do so and cost maybe.

Nick Oswald (39:22):
And that, so for me, that, that’s my, that would be my perspective on the, on a major part of the, the boss sort of rapport relationship is that it’s not that one is right, and one is wrong, or one has the power and one doesn’t, it’s a, it’s a circle. It’s a, you know, it’s a symbiosis and you have to, you have to communication and, and listening and and you know, sharing ideas and also taking the responsibility to to act on what each other is seeing is, is really important. Because as a boss, the worst thing you can do is not, listen, not listen that listening just don’t do anything to the system until it breaks or until you know the, until it’s so outdated or inefficient, that, that it just doesn’t work anymore. But you see that all around or, you know, so that’s one aspect of it. The other thing is, especially in the scientific context, something that is really important to do and is often overlooked. And I say that because I overlooked it I didn’t overlook it. I allowed myself to overlook it because I want it to get a position.

Nick Oswald (40:44):
And I don’t want to look at what was really under the hood is, is one of the real important things about managing your boss is to choose your boss wisely and effectively when you’re being interviewed for a job, you interview the boss because this is a relationship it’s not it’s not that you’re getting the gift of the job, it’s that you, even though it feels like that sometimes it’s it’s that you need to interview for the position as much as the boss needs to interview for the position. And then, then you can, you know, when you take some of the things that came said there into account, some of the, what are the, what are the bits where it becomes sticky and then you with a boss and you have to start then really digging in to yourself to kind of overcome the problems that are bad.

Nick Oswald (41:30):
Boss can cause you you can, you can avoid a lot of that by simply choosing, you know, looking for that sort of thing when you’re interviewing for the boss and for when you’re interviewing for the job and also talk to the people in the lab and so on, you know, a good, a good boss will always let you go and talk to his people or her people. And and you can really get the low down on what’s happening that sort of thing, especially in science, since you, you know, potentially depending on where you’re working you can be switching boss quite often and you can often have choice. Then you, you need to, you know, one way to manage this is to find someone who fits your mindset and you think you could work well with

Kenneth Vogt (42:18):
Sure. And yeah, a lot of you may be listening to this right now and go, man, I wish Nick was my boss, but you know what you’re hearing, you’re hearing the rosiest possible view right now. Not because of Nick because of yourself, because you’re hearing the potential for Nick to be a great boss, but you know what your boss probably has potential to, even if they’re not perfect. So yeah. Obviously pick well at the beginning, but once you got it, you know, unless, unless they are really getting in the way of your career, make this particular boss work, at least for now, you know, and if they’re really a problem, well, do a better job interviewing for the next boss. But you know, you, you, you can’t help to

Nick Oswald (43:00):
Just sit on that cane is that I have I, in my personal opinion, in some ways I’m a good boss in some ways I’m a bad boss and the, the but what I’m, I feel like I’m quite lucky to have is that I have people around me who will manage those bad bits for me, they’ll push back on me and they will. And then what I do is what I’ve kind of trained myself to do, or with your help, Ken, is to take that push back and allow myself to be molded into a better boss. And that that’s, but that couldn’t happen if people didn’t push back.

Kenneth Vogt (43:34):
Right? Exactly. You’re serving your boss when you push back. And I, you know, I’ve had the opportunity to be a fly on the wall at bitesizebio and see that interaction between Nick and the people that report to him. And, you know, it’s gotten to the point now where, you know, there was a point where Nick was everything, he did everything. And then he finally got some people to, to help. And, and so he was managing them and then it was like, let’s get in bigger. So I, you needed to move born to a director role where he had managers that reported to him, but their job was to manage well, now he’s in a role where he’s an executive where he’s got directors reporting to him and, and it’s yeah, each time that perspective has changed. But each time he still needs input from the people that report to him.

Kenneth Vogt (44:23):
And if they didn’t do their job that way, he wouldn’t be as good at it. So you’re, you are helping your career. If you do a good job, managing your boss and, and yet you might at first blush go, well, what do I care about that for? Well, because if you listen to the parts on charisma, because when you help other people, ultimately it helps you. And even if they only see helping you through the lens of their own selfish benefit, doesn’t matter. If they see benefit, they’ll do it, they’ll help you. So make them see benefits. And, and that’s what Nick has done. And he’s, and he’s learned to, to hear, you know, things he doesn’t want to hear. And sometimes you just have to, because generally speaking, that’s just plugging you into reality. It’s like, oh, I didn’t want to hear that. Yeah. It’s because you don’t want to see what’s actually there. Well, a lot of times we all have that. We all wish certain things would just go away, but that’s not generally how reality works. So you can make it easier for your boss and, and ultimately make it easier for yourself. So that’s, that’s the objective here, manage your boss for, for everyone’s benefit.

Nick Oswald (45:37):
So I just, I just thought of a biological analogy. I like these. So it’s very crude, but if you, you know, if you manage, imagine, you know, the boss and then the reports are a part of a team, the analogy is that the boss is the brain ticking, all the signals in and deciding how, what the reactions are going to be in so on. And don’t don’t seem, or the reports, which have the muscles. If the, if the, if the the, you know, the sensory nerves or whatever. And if the, if this, if the ne the, the signals don’t go back up to the brain, then the brain has very limited set of information. So can’t say properly what to do next. And similarly, if the brain just doesn’t listen to those signals, if a blocks off sort of signals, then, then the system doesn’t work. But if the, both, if there’s a, if there’s,uproper signal in between the, the upstream and the downstream, then it can all work together and, and it can keep improving. I don’t know if I say a watertight analogy, but it’s, it’s, that’s the sort of idea is that, that it’s a system. And,uand every element of it, there’s no one element of it. That’s more important than the other.

Kenneth Vogt (46:49):
Yeah. And that’s sometimes a hard concept for people to accept because you know, their, their knee jerk reaction might be, I want to be of the brain. I don’t want to just be the muscle, you know, like, well, every part is important. So don’t, don’t look at another part with, with covetous envy, like, oh, I read it. I want to be that well, okay. Maybe you do want to be that, and you can work toward that, but for right now, you’re the muscle. So be it and do it well and realize that you can influence the brain. You’re sending the signals to it. It’s getting the data from you. So you, you can control to a certain extent what kind of no, that controls not the right word, but you can, you can influence to a certain extent how they’re going to react. So make sure you do make sure you, you take charge of your, of how you will influence that. Wow. That I think is everything to be set on this topic for now, unless you got something else.

Nick Oswald (47:52):
No, I think that was a, again, a great topic. I think it’s really important to just understand where you, you know, what your role is in every team that you’re in and that, that goes with work and home and so on. It’s it’s you have a role, you have an effect on other people, regardless of what your position is and making sure it’s a positive one and, and, and appreciating the positions of the other people in the group are and, and the perspectives and the different worries they have and the different you know, responsibilities. They have that that’s a good mindset for happiness inside and outside of, of the lab. Yeah, so I was going to say something else, but for some reason has gone nevermind episode in the next episode, if it, if it pops back up.

Nick Oswald (48:46):
Oh, yeah. But that is what I was gonna say again, I kind of alluded to earlier, but one particular job, I worked in a small biotech and I was an upstart 20 something and, and thought I knew everything and thought my boss was, you know, pushed harder on my boss for certain things. And then learned later, I’ve, haven’t speaking, speaking to him, like many years later of the pressure he was under to keep things going and so on. And I’m pushing really hard because I can see ways to make improvements and so on. And he’s wondering how to keep the lights on, you know, it’s that different, that perspective is it comes with experience of course, and, and unfortunately age and all that. But it’s good to just realize that, that it’s not always the way it seems to you, you know, there’s the traditional view of the bosses, all powerful.

Nick Oswald (49:41):
He’s always trying to pull one over on his on, on the people who work for him. He’s always trying to get, you know, as much out of them for as little as possible. Well, if you’ve chosen your boss wisely, if you’ve done your due diligence, it’s not that you know, it might not be that just, just keep your eyes open and just give them the benefit of the doubt and everything. I wish I could go back and slap that 20 something upstart in the head and say, come on, be grateful for the opportunity this person’s giving you. Oh yes.

Kenneth Vogt (50:12):
Oh, I wish somebody would give it to me.

Nick Oswald (50:19):
Well, hopefully it helps some people again another, another great piece of wisdom from you, Ken, and thank very much for putting it together. And again,Ken mentioned those episodes, one to nine, the foundational episodes. We mentioned them each week, just in case you haven’t listened to them yet. If you haven’t go back, Episodes one to nine of the podcast and you can get them on a bitesizebio.Com/thehappyscientist. Go back to episode 1-9, or you can get them on Spotify and,Google and apple and all that, all those different podcast directories we’re on all of them, whatever your favorite is. We’re there go back to episodes 1-9 and Ken waxes lyrical for many hours about,over those episodes about human needs, core mindsets, charisma factors, and all sorts of other concepts that will really help you to understand yourself and other people and to, and to,get some handles on how you can improve things for yourself and the people around you. And also we are on Facebook,uas usual, join us there, and we’ll keep you updated on,new episodes coming out new ideas and other things that will only be available on Facebook. That takes us to the end of this episode. And I’d just like to thank you again, Ken, for another great piece of insight. Thank you. And we’ll see you all next time.

OUTRO (51:53):
The happy scientist is brought to you by bitesizebio, your mentor in the lab. Bitesizebio features, thousands of articles and webinars contributed by hundreds of PhD, scientists and scientific companies who freely offer their hard, won wisdom and solutions to the bitesizebio community.


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