Quick tips for managing your boss
Making a point of getting noticed by those who count is a career-enhancing move because their views will no doubt positively influence the boss as well. Being recognized as being good at the job is the best way to be noticed. Effective practitioners find ways for their strengths, abilities and willingness to make the extra effort to be seen by those who count.
Your boss’s opinion should be sought. Proposals should be presented in such a way that your boss can contribute to the end result and can take some ownership of the work – as long as they don’t try to take all the credit! Adopt the boss’s practicable suggestions. If they aren’t practicable, walk your boss through the implications by asking them a series of questions until they realize for themselves that their approach isn’t practicable.
Become a problem-solver by sorting out problems before they reach the boss. However, if a problem becomes more serious, ensure your boss hears about it first from you.
Tackle conflict with the boss constructively. Some differences of opinion will inevitably occur over time. Disagree with the boss if it is important, but avoid challenging the boss in front of others. The boss will be unforgiving if they lose face in front of others.
Observe the chain of command. Even if the boss is wrong and won’t change their decision, it is disastrous to appeal over their head because the boss will never forgive such treachery.
One small but practical tip is to always acknowledge the boss’s email messages. Don’t just read messages; respond to them, even with “OK” or “Thanks”, so the boss doesn’t get the impression they are sending information into a black, bottomless hole run by a gormless subordinate.
Also, it helps to organize the information for which you are responsible so that when the boss asks for it, the information can be readily found. It is wise to keep everything received from the boss – and know where to retrieve it – and BACK IT UP! One day this housekeeping act will save the boss from losing valuable information and will make you look positively brilliant.
It is also prudent to confirm the boss’s verbal decisions, especially important decisions, promptly back to them by email. This ensures that you take full responsibility for the communication and that no misunderstandings arise and become a source of difficulty with the boss. The Managing Director where I worked at one stage was rather stressed and literally tended to forget from one day to the next what his decisions had been. It caused a lot of problems for executives, including me, until we began to confirm by email the decisions made in meetings with the chief.