With all of the attention today on effective management techniques and the need for
people skills, it’s surprising that one of the most critical areas to getting ahead in your career
doesn’t get much attention – the fine art of managing your boss.
Managing your boss isn’t a matter of “apple polishing” or playing politics. It involves
working together to generate the best solutions for you, your boss and your company.
Many talented people are stuck in the old paradigm of expecting their boss to manage
them. They take a passive, reactive stance, waiting for direction and support. They may
complain about a bad boss, but do little to turn things around themselves. They don’t
know the small but essential steps they can take to establish a productive dialogue.
Don’t fall into this trap. Don’t assume that your boss knows what you need in order to
do your job well. Don’t assume that your actions are in sync with his or her
expectations and priorities. Stay in touch. Communicate. Check things out.
Your Most Critical Working Relationship
Your boss links you to the rest of your company. When your relationship works well, your
priorities will be consistent with your company’s goals and you’ll be able to advance more rapidly in your career.
If you want to influence the outcome of your relationship with your boss, you have to
take responsibility. Waiting for your boss’s direction can ultimately hurt your chances
Here are some action steps you can take RIGHT NOW to build a more productive and
rewarding relationship with your boss.
First Identify Your Boss’s Priorities – Your boss’s opinion about you is critical. By
learning and attending to her priorities and goals, you become more valuable. This
doesn’t mean that you need to agree with everything your boss says. When properly
handled, disagreements can build your credibility and gain you greater support.
Ask WIIFH? – Before you present your ideas to your boss, ask, “What’s in it for him?”
Think about how your activities further your boss’s goals and priorities. When you can
link your activities to benefits for your boss, you are much more likely to get support
for what you need.
Under-Promise and Over-Deliver – Always be conservative in your commitments. There’s a
natural tendency to want to impress and please others by making big promises. However,
no matter how much you actually accomplish, if you don’t meet the expectations you set,
you can’t help but damage your reputation. When you deliver or over-deliver on your
promises, you build credibility in the eyes of your superiors.
Don’t Focus Solely on Problems – Yes, your boss is busy. But just because you’re lucky to
get a few moments, doesn’t mean you should focus only on difficulties. Make sure your
regular meetings include discussions of positive performance.
Offer Solutions – Never take a problem to your boss without offering possible solutions
at the same time. This gives you an opportunity to showcase your problem-solving ability.
It pays to look for ways to develop your creativity and view problems from different
Learn to Solicit Feedback Effectively – It’s important to get regular feedback from your
boss. If you don’t, you risk being surprised at your performance reviews. However, the
way you go about soliciting feedback is important and depends on your boss’s personality
Everything you achieve in your career, you will achieve through relationships with
others. And no relationship can have a greater impact on your career than your
relationship with your boss.
Today, relationship strategies rule the world. It’s up to you to learn and apply
them, to maximize your performance and achieve the results you want.