Like to have the battle plans of the opposing army before the attack? Want to know what options your boss has when he plans to hire, fire, transfer, promote, train, demote, reprimand or reward? Of course you do. So read on.

Most of that life-and-death job information is contained in a 252-page book called the Managers Handbook. Circulation of the handbook, which has become a bureaucratic bible, has been limited to about 20,000 key federal officials. Although 20,000 sounds like a lot, it really qualitfies as almost top-secret in an outfit as big as the U.S. government.

The Managers Handbook has become so popular that it now has the dubious distinction of being one of the items stolen most frequently from governing offices.

Soon, however, the handbook will be availble in quantity. It will be gobbled up by bosses who want to know how to do things, as well as by workers and union leaders who want to know what the boss might do.

Federal agencies have ordered 221,000 extra copies of the handbook. That will be enough for almost every white-collar manager and supervisor in government, and for a limited number of people who like to keep an eye on the boss. There will even be copies (at about $5 per) for persons like myself who like to curl up of an evevening with a drink in one hand and a juicy federal manual in the other.

The Managers Handbook has been hailed as the greatest thing since sliced bread by many officials, or as an instrument of the devil by some employes who see it as an all-too-graphic guide as to how to apply the screws.

Office of Personnel Management produced the handbook (the primary author was John Scholzen). Idea was to provide managers with a road map of the federal personnel system, which is as complicated as the circuits of a moon rocket and as changeable as the weather.

The handbook has chapters on hiring, reducing the force, classifying jobs, rating employes, training, pay rewards, methods of punishment and dismissal. It even covers health matters and how to help employes with troubles.

New copies of the Managers Handbook will be available within the next month or so. Angencies will have copies (at a cost to them of about $1 each). Goverment Printing Office bookstores also will have them available to members of the public, or civil servants whose boss keeps the office copy under lock and key.

Under President Carter's civil service reform, manager and supervisors are expected to do more managing and supervising, and to help people shape up or ship out. The handbook will be especially helpful to that group whose future pay raises will depend in part on how well they manage subordinates.

Subordinates too will want to take a look at the handbook, so they can tell if they are being managed, or mangled, by their leaders. Come to think of it 221,000 extra copies may not be enough.