Truly understanding your boss is obviously an important part of any job. But learning the best way to ‘manage’ your boss – now THAT’s a real skill that takes practice, keen observation skills, good “soft” skills, and the willingness to put your ego aside for the purpose of getting what you need from them.
Have any of these things ever happened to you?
Your boss says for you to be more assumptive. So, you make a decision and implement it with your staff; your boss says you should have asked him/her first.
You are given an assignment by your boss. You take copious notes on how he/she wants you to handle the assignment. You finish the assignment exactly as they coached you. When you hand it in, your boss says you are off the mark and it’s not what they asked for.
Other management peers of yours are regularly “held up” to the group by your boss as the perfect example, even though you know they are not working as hard or as smart as you are.
There are many other examples of bosses who need to be managed by you, but you get the general idea. So, what are some of the best ways you can ingratiate yourself with your boss and get your job done properly at the same time? I believe there are five main areas of focus you should get really good at:
Really get to know your boss so that you can help THEM. What are their weaknesses? What are THEIR goals? What are their preferred communication styles?
Help your boss manage his own time better. Another way of saying this is don’t waste their time with your neediness! Be gutsy; make some decisions without their express approval sometimes. You might get “jerked back” for your decision, but trust me – managers would MUCH rather be pulling their employees off the edge of the cliff than constantly pushing them toward the edge.
Praise your boss. Let them know when they have behaved in a way that has really helped you learn something.
Don’t just give your boss data – give them an executive overview. Your boss has asked you for the year-end numbers? Don’t just dump a 72-tab worksheet into their e-mail. Take the time to assess the data, and prepare an executive summary for them – that way, they can tell in a glance what the numbers say, and if they want to drill down, they can do so later at their leisure.
Don’t hover. As a former manager, I can tell you that nothing is more frustrating than employees who “hover” their boss. It’s usually either a sign of insecurity, or a lack of understanding of the job – and neither one is a good scenario. That’s not to say that I don’t encourage an “open door” policy, but don’t be that one employee who ruins it for everyone by constantly hanging outside the boss’ door. I promise you will NOT win any points this way.
Helping to proactively implement your boss’ dreams and goals will ultimately make you a much better, happier employee – AND your contributions and value to the company will skyrocket!