“Wait a min, are you saying that I should be managing my boss? But aren’t they supposed to manage me?” Frankly speaking, you should be managing your boss and colleagues, and they should be managing you as well. Sounds strange, isn’t it? Speaking from experience, the way you manage your boss will directly impact your working life – from raises, perks, promotion, and to simply achieving a happy and more fulfilled daily workload.
Like it or not, we spend most of our hours at work, and if your relationship with your manager or director is a difficult one, it’ll make all those hours dreadful, taxing, torturous and meaningless. Some people opt to deal with the situation by gritting their teeth and toughing it out – but doing so makes it hard to carry out good work as people who work under those circumstances subject themselves to grudges, insecurity and fear. Others might engage in office politics, manipulation and games – but that usually turns out bad and takes a toll on your career. Some others just choose to ignore the situation and focus on themselves like finding a new job.
Despite which category you fall into, keeping your boss happy and being helpful to him or her isn’t all that difficult; because managing your boss isn’t just good for you, but it’s also good for them. Just imagine being in their shoes: They have difficult decisions to make, schedules to stick to, meetings to attend to, and internal objectives to achieve. Whether or not you agree on trying to manage your boss, it is still essential to develop some understanding on how he or she works. From there, you’ll be one step closer to becoming an accountable, efficient, effective and respectable employee yourself.
Thus, if you know how to help your manager or director to plan and execute their workload, it will go a long way to giving them sustainable support, trust and encouragement to achieve a win-win situation and get work done efficiently. It’s not rocket science after all, because all it takes is developing smart habits, effective communication skills, learning to throw out the typical ‘boss-subordinate’ relationship and start taking responsibility and ownership for communicating what’s happening and owning the process of getting tasks done.
Managing your boss is not about ‘brushing their shoes‘ or ‘butt-kissing‘. It’s a legitimate strategy that benefits you, your boss, and your organization. Actively pursue these ‘A’s guidelines and you’ll be on your way to creating a healthy, productive and conducive working relationship that is based on mutual respect and understanding, and you’ll find yourself in a win-win, sustainable situation.
Always Be Proactive
I know, it’s so much easier not to be proactive. It takes less effort to receive instructions and deliver a result than to proactively set the direction and propose new ideas. Being proactive includes taking initiative to understand your boss and his/ her working context, such as goals/ objectives, issues/ pressures, preferred work style, strength and weakness. At the same time, we need to do the same to understand ourselves and our colleagues too.
Address Issues Confidently
When it comes to an issue or problem that you want to resolve with the boss, always choose the right moment to deal with it. Presenting an issue at the wrong moment might just cause higher chances that you won’t get a solution, or a negative result at worse. Always prepare what you want to say because that way you’ll know exactly what you should say, how you should say it – and with conviction and confidence. Start by addressing the background of the issue first so that the boss have a clear understanding on the situation and you’ll be less likely to be diverted with non-related questions and your boss will probably already be on your side.
Advise with Respect
Sometimes, your boss might make foolish decisions. Instead of keeping quiet and turning a blind eye to the situation, if the matter is in your expertise area, you should learn to be bold to advise or suggest respectfully for a better alternative with proper facts and figures. However, once your boss has made that decision, respect his/ her decision and do your best to implement it regardless whether we agree or not.
Stick to the golden rule: Don’t ever make your own assumptions. Clarity is the remedy – and to achieve clarity, you’ll need to set clear performance expectations and provide context to a particular task. Your aim is to create mutual understanding and reduce potential misunderstandings or bad decisions. Thus, speaking in jargon or using too much technical language is unwise as it can lead to a lack of trust. Be prepared to communicate in a language and tone where your boss can comprehend easily.
Align Expectations Through Communication
Yes. Talk it out. Give updates even if you think your boss knows what’s going on. Talk about your progress. Share new data that you’ve discovered that could improve the outcome. Be honest about the current or potential challenges you’re facing. Just as your bosses are accountable for managing you, you are also responsible for managing them by aligning expectations through effective, open and timely communication.
Accountability Comes First
It is becoming a norm to do “tai-chi” and get yourself off the hook. Don’t point fingers and blame others if you mess up or fail. Instead, own up to your work and demonstrate your accountability by providing a summary of what went wrong, what can be done to resolve the situation or make it better, and what action you’ll take to prevent it from occurring again. Accountability is increasingly rare, which makes it even more valuable to your employer.
Accept Responsibility & Take Your Job Seriously
Your boss doesn’t expect you to be perfect. But you’ll be appreciated when you truly care about what you do. This doesn’t mean you should take yourself too seriously, but be serious about your job and be willing to accept responsibilities. Over time, trust will be built between you and your boss through your consistency to walk your talk.
Anticipate the Future
Try to look to the future and anticipate what may happen that could derail your plan. Don’t be afraid to highlight something that might have an adverse impact as it’s better to anticipate these things than to let them smack you in the face. Once you have sensed potential challenges, develop a plan to overcome it. Then, communicate it.
Saying is easy, but doing is difficult. We should all try to discipline ourselves and shift our mindset to seek the positivism in every situation. Think, speak, act and share positive vibes. When everyone else turns to complain, find a work-around it. This makes you a valuable team member and sets you apart from the norm. The rule of the thumb is to invest time, energy and creativity into making your boss and team happy. By doing so, you’re showing your best self as much as possible, and creating positive habits in yourself that cultivate trust.
Work is easy when people get along. To sum up, the two success factors are communication and chemistry. This is an integral part of creating a work environment where everyone’s strength can come together to form unity, harmony and synergy. When people are able to get along and respect each other, it creates a flatter organizational hierarchy and everyone begins to value each other’s input despite where they fit on the organizational structure.
So, go ahead, apply these tips and Ace your work-relationship with your bosses!