Monday, August 17, 2009

Managing Your Boss

When we think of managing we usually think top/down. We see the boss managing his staff or his team.

Rarely do we think of managing as bottoms/up. We do not see an employee being responsible for managing his boss.

Yet, if you are going to succeed in business, how you manage your relationship with your boss is crucial.

Behavioral strategist Joe Takash has some suggestions to help you here, and they are a good place to begin. Link here.

The basic concept is simple: your relationship with your boss is professional and formal, not intimate and personal.

Unless you have been explicitly invited to do so, you should not just drop into his office for a chat. And if you are having a scheduled meeting, stick to the agenda. Do not offer to share information about your private life.

I would not say that it never happens that employer and employee share personal information, but the boss should always be the one to take the initiative.

Formality requires that if you need to bring something to your boss's attention, you begin by making an appointment. Then, you show up punctually and prepared.

Takash emphasizes the preparation. Know what you want to get accomplished in the meeting; prepare any materials that may be needed; get right to the point. If need be, practice your presentation before you get to the meeting.

After you have exchanged greetings, be ready to present your problem in a single sentence. A meeting with your boss is a good place to practice what you have learned about "high concept."

All of this shows that you respect your boss's time and position.

Preparation is vital, and not just to have a one sentence summary. If you are looking for guidance about how to handle a complex situation, you must show that you have analyzed the problem and have arrived at two or three possible solutions. If need be, you should be ready to explain the possible outcomes of each approach.

Be prepared to tell your boss how you see things, what you think, and what the options are. You might express a preference for one or the other. That is your job. Your boss's job is choosing between them.

When your boss makes a decision, or even if he suggests that you go with your own recommendation, Takash suggests that you make a follow-up appointment to discuss the results.

No matter what your boss decides, implement the policy with energy and enthusiasm. You are not going to be given more leadership responsibility if you show that you cannot follow instructions.

You will implement with energy and enthusiasm because if things do not work out as planned, you do not want it to look as though you tried to sabotage a decision with which you disagreed.

If things do not work out well you should not criticize your boss or remind him that you favored a different approach. If he suggests that he was wrong, reply that, once you had thought it over, you had come to prefer his decision.

If you make your boss feel that he has lost face, even if only in your eyes, you will be jeopardizing your job. It is better to forget all prior discussions and to suggest ways to change course.

If things work out well, then you should thank your boss for his help.

No comments: