Thursday, July 23, 2009

How to manage your boss.

“A man should live with his superiors as he does with his fire, not too near, lest he burn, nor too far off, lest he freeze.” – Diogenes

The rewards of managing your boss more effectively include:
* An easier working relationship.
* Reduced stress.
* An improved image.
* Increased receptiveness to your concerns and needs.
* More support for your career development.

• If your boss loves to talk,
- have a set agenda when you meet that specifies the outcome of the meeting.
- keep him focused on the agenda.
- start the meeting on time and end it (or leave it) on time.

• If you work for an entrepreneur, you’ll probably have very little time to get his attention. It helps:
- to initially present the issue in summary form (less that one page).
- to respect his personal style.
- if you’re dealing with visual person, use pictures and graphs.
- if your boss isn’t detail oriented, quickly present the facts - no big stories.
Realize you won’t change the boss’s behavior but you can change your mode of influence.

• If you work for an analytical boss, let her hear it, see it, think about it, and have time to process it before you get into a discussion to influence the outcome. It’s not very productive to present the answer first and then argue about it later.

• If your boss is unfocused and all over the place, define the priorities that you want covered first before attending meetings with her. Give direct, respectful feedback pointing out where time is being wasted and where the meetings are getting off-track.

• If you need your boss’s approval, work on your presentation until you’re convinced that you’re convincing. Respect the value of your boss’s time when you ask for some of it. When you propose a plan or make a request, package it in terms of the outcomes your boss cares about. Your suggestions are more likely to be approved if they lead to something she wants, or does away with something she doesn’t want.

• Build some goodwill with your boss at the start of a potentially contentious meeting by giving him some positive feedback at the very beginning. Start off by affirming,
- You know I’m on your team.
- I’m here to help, to make life easier for you anyway I can.
- Once we’ve talked this through, I’ll do whatever you decide, irrespective of my own personal feelings.
- This will allow you to express your opinions more freely during the meeting. If your comments are constructive, made in a professional manner with the best interests of the business in mind, and are fact-based, clearly showing that your opinions are well thought out, you should be able to speak out without fear of negative repercussions.

• Often, it’s easier to get the boss’s attention and cooperation early in the morning, before something has gone wrong and spoiled his day.

• Position yourself as a coachable employee. Give your boss feedback in this regard such as, “I heard you say that I was ....... I wouldn’t have thought about that on my own and I’m thankful to you for pointing it out to me. What else should I know?”

• Don’t go over the boss’s head or behind her back as this can permanently ruin
your relationship. Discuss the issue with her first. If it’s something very serious and she does nothing about it, then you may have to go over her head. In some cases, she may be the problem and you don’t feel you can confront her about it.

• But if you do decide to go over her head, this should be a last resort, engaged in only if,
- a very important project is on the line, and there’s an urgent problem your boss continues to ignore.
- your boss is doing something illegal.
- you’ve reason to believe your boss has a serious physical illness, mental illness, or substance abuse problem..
- your boss is doing something (sexual harassment or contracting irregularities) that could lead to a lawsuit.

• In cases like this, be careful to keep your information confidential and discuss it with another only on a need-to-know basis. Document your conversation in an e-mail or a memo for the record, and save a copy for yourself. And always proceed cautiously. You just could be mistaken.

Try using the ideas outlined above to bring understanding and cooperation to a relationship between two people who often have quite different perspectives on the same situation.

No comments: