You may not like it, however managing your boss or manager is vital to your career growth. Cultivating him or her as an ally is key to your survival in this modern tribe. So it’s in your best interest to make sure your boss thinks you’re awesome and wants to support your success. Fortunately, keep your boss happy and helpful isn’t all that difficult, if you follow these simple rules to manage:
1. Do what you say
This is important on every level. If you can be relied upon consistently to do what you say you’re going to do – all the way from showing up on time, to sending the email you promised to send, to completing the big project by the agreed-upon deadline, to achieving the targets for your business – your boss will learn to see you as a go-to person, and more responsibility and autonomy will come your way. Think about it this way.
2. Take responsibility vs. make excuses
Sometimes, of course, it’s simply not possible to manage what you say. In that case, take full responsibility even if the mistake was out of your control. Here’s how that sounds. Late for a meeting because you had to take your kid to the doctor? Instead of coming into the meeting and saying, “I was at the doctor with my kid, and there is no way I could get here on time,” say, “I’m so sorry I’m late. Please keep going–I’ll catch up and get the notes for what I missed afterward.” If your boss asks you after the meeting why you were late, you can tell him or her the reason – and let him or her know you’ve made arrangements to keep it from happening again.
3. Take your job seriously
Your boss doesn’t expect you to be perfect but appreciates it when it’s obvious that truly care about what you do. This doesn’t mean you should take yourself too seriously, though. Be serious about your job but be willing to laugh at your own weakness. Do the best for your job.
4. No surprises, ever
Even if you’re afraid some bad news might upset your boss, don’t wait until the last minute to deliver it. This is especially true if your boss tends to “shoot the messenger.” Frequent updates are your best and only defense.
5. Make requests vs. complaints
This is an important habit to build just in general, but it’s especially important relative to your boss. Here’s the distinction: a complaint says, “This is bad.” A request says, “This is what I’d like to have happened instead.” Complaints feel accusatory and whiny: childish. Requests feel respectful, reasonable, and solution-focused. So instead of saying to your boss, “It’s impossible to get anything done with marketing, they’re so difficult to work with!” (a complaint) say, “I’d really appreciate some help in figuring out how to work better with marketing” (a request).
6. Come with solutions
Nothing irritates a boss more than being forced to listen to you kvetch about things that either you’re not willing to change or are outside your boss’s ability to change. Don’t bring up a problem unless you have a solution in mind.If requests are good, solutions are even better. I was talking with someone recently, the head of HR for a small but growing company, and she moved from complaint to request to the solution before going to her boss. At first, she was going to complain to him: “Nobody respects my role, and they won’t do what I ask them to,” but then realized that sounded (and was) lame. So then she thought about making a request to him, “I’d like it if you could tell the GMs they need to respond to my emails and make time to meet with me.” A request – better, but still not great. Finally, she wrote up a simple strategic plan for her role and took it to her boss, saying. “Here’s how I see my role. I want to make sure you and I agree on this, then I’d like to sit down with each of the GM’s, talk through it, and come to an agreement with them.” A solution! Her boss loved it.
7. Keep your promises
Your boss wants to trust you to get your job done, so he or she isn’t left in the lurch. Therefore, when you accept an assignment, follow through fanatically. Never over-?commit and always deliver. As Expert said: “Do or do not. There is no ‘try’.”
8. Communicate clearly
When dealing with your boss, speak and write in short sentences, use the fewest words possible to make a point, and make that point easily understandable. This makes your boss’s job easier which helps make your job easier.
9. Manage your own growth
I have noticed, over the years, that there are some employees who “wait to be grown,” and other employees who understand that they are the master of their own career fate and that they need to figure out where they want to go and how to get there. Most bosses love this second kind of employee and are happy to support them. An example: rather than expecting your boss to hand you new opportunities, ask for what you want. Decide what you’re interested in, and ask for specific chances to grow in that area. For example, if you want to become a manager of people, ask your boss if you can manage an internal, or team lead a project of your peers.
10. Be a good corporate citizen
Most bosses notice how the people on their team get along. And if one person seems to make things easier for everyone; figures out how to work with others to get things done; supports his or her teammates success; doesn’t create drama or gossip your boss (assuming he or she is a reasonably smart, reasonably well-adjusted person) will appreciate it. If that person is you, it demonstrates to your boss that you’re a positive influence, a good person to have around, and probably capable of doing more to manage. It’s also a big relief to your boss not to have to spend time and energy dealing with your interpersonal difficulties.
11. Make your boss’ life easier
Which brings us to the final thing you can do. Most bosses get tired of feeling as though their employees are only focused on their own benefit, their own careers, and how the boss can help them. If you, as an employee, spend some time thinking about what you can do to support your boss success, and then offer to do it, you will automatically be a welcome change from the norm. And when you’re the boss, you’ll want exactly the same kind of employee.
12. Over-prepare for every meeting
Sometimes your boss will want to “drill down” into the details of your job. Answer with aplomb and your boss assumes you’re competent; hesitate and your boss assumes you’re not. Spending at least an hour your boss.
13. Show interest in your boss’s career
To make yourself invaluable, you want to deliver what your boss needs before your boss knows he or she needs it. Learn how to predict those needs by expressing curiosity about your boss’s experience and perspective.
14. Make your boss successful
Regardless of what it says in your job description, your top priority is always to make your boss successful. Similarly, your boss’s job is to make you more successful. If your boss doesn’t “get” this concept of reciprocity, your top priority is to find a different boss.
It would be wonderful if success rested purely upon your ability to do your job, but that’s less than half the picture. Raises, promotions, and other perks often depend directly on whether you can manage your manager rather than whether your manager is good at managing you.
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