3 Key Tips to Manage Your Boss

Your relationship with your boss can be one of the most complicated relationships you have. It doesn’t have to be.

Whether you think you have a boss you can work with or not, take charge of making it work.

After all, your boss’s opinion matters. His or her opinion has a significant impact on your earnings, your enjoyment of your work, and your future employment.

Look at the list below. Clarifying these points can be the difference between smooth sailing and navigating rough seas with your boss.

  • Getting agreement on your work objectives and how they will be measured.
  • Knowing your boss’s hot buttons, e.g. what she always looks for, what he never asks about.
  • Addressing any proposal/concern you have in terms that influences your boss to buy-in. In other words, make it clear what is in it for them and the organization.

So, you get your boss’s opinion. You may not agree with it. But that’s all good. You have more information now. You may conclude you need a different assignment or even a different employer. Knowledge is power. Being informed supports good decision-making.

  1. Don’t Take Anything For Granted - You may find that you and your boss have experienced disconnects in the past. Looking at the list above, any one of those points could be at play, but are not being spoken or clarified. But now, by using the right tools, you can get a common understanding of your job.

    Depending on the kind of relationship you have with your boss, you can:

    • Initiate a meeting and go over the list together.
    • Raise up one point you think is particularly relevant.
    • Keep this list in the back of your mind and ask a question in an opportune moment.
  2. Get What You Need From The Challenging Boss - You thought you understood his or her feedback, but you keep hearing about it. What’s up? For example, you might hear: “You need to exhibit more teamwork.” I also often hear a need for improved communication skills or strategic thinking. You can ask:

    • What kind of behavior demonstrates teamwork to you?
    • Is there something I’ve done that makes you say that? (If needed, ask: “Can you give me some details?” It could be just one incident they are generalizing about. Then you can talk it through.)
    • Repeat back to them, “So if I (do the specific behavior they describe), you would see me as improving in the area of teamwork?”

    I know it may feel tough to muster up your best intentions. It’s better than wasting your time trying five different things to satisfy them, without knowing specifically what the rub is.

    Don’t be surprised if the specifics you get have nothing to do with how you would define teamwork. No need to point that out. Now you know the details and what needs to be done to satisfy this point for them.

  3. Be Your Own Leader - We talk about managers and organizations creating environments of empowerment, but you have the ability to empower yourself. When I say this what I mean is for you to:

    “Claim and embody your own authority; own your dreams, decisions, actions and impact.”

With the simple points in the list at the top of this post, you can get clear now rather than suffer later because you didn’t. Learn to show the value of your ideas and performance. Earn trust and credibility and set the stage for more opportunities.

You have a right to expect a lot from your boss, and you are not always going to get what you need. You are responsible for making the relationship work for you. You can do it.

Editor's Note: Mary will be presenting a Soundview Live webinar on How To Make Your Relationship With Your Boss Work For You later this  month. The webinar will be on Thursday, October 22 - 12:00pm ET. Registration is free.

Please visit Soundview Live to register.

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