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Quick tips for managing your boss

01 Jun, 2020 Managing upwards, PR management, Workplace relationships

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 communicators find ways for their strengths, abilities and willingness to make the extra effort to be seen by those who count.

You should seek your boss’s opinion. Present proposals so 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 these 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 your boss constructively. Some differences of opinion will inevitably occur over time. Disagree with your boss if it is important, but avoid challenging them in front of others. Your boss will be unforgiving if they lose face in front of others.

Observe the chain of command. Even if your 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, organize information for which you are responsible so it can be readily found when your boss asks for it. 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 your boss from losing valuable information and will make you look positively brilliant.

Ensure you confirm your boss’s verbal decisions, especially important decisions, by promptly  emailing receipt of the instructions. This ensures that you take full responsibility for the communication with no misunderstandings arising and becoming a source of difficulty with your 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.

About the author Kim Harrison

Kim Harrison loves sharing actionable ideas and information about professional communication and business management. He has wide experience as a corporate affairs manager, consultant, author, lecturer, and CEO of a non-profit organization. Kim is a Fellow and former national board member of the Public Relations Institute of Australia, and he ran his State’s professional development program for 7 years, helping many practitioners to strengthen their communication skills. People from 115 countries benefit from the practical knowledge shared in his monthly newsletter and in the eBooks available from

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