October 21, 2009
How to boost your relationship with the boss
Ask anyone who's ever had a bad boss how much time they spend stewing about their supervisor each week and they'll likely answer, "Far more hours than I spend at work."
It doesn't have to be this way, says Joe Takash, behavior strategist and author of "Results Through Relationships: Building Trust, Performance and Profit Through People." There is such a thing as training your boss (a.k.a. managing up).
Whether you're an entry-level employee or a middle manager, forging a partnership with your boss can make the difference between a job you tolerate and a job you actually enjoy, Takash says. As an added bonus, by making your boss and your coworkers look good, you look good -- something all workers should strive for, especially in this economic climate.
So how do you manage up? Takash offers these tips:
Choose your timing. Don't approach the boss when she's in a foul mood or he's on a hairy deadline. At best, you won't have their full attention. At worst, you'll work their last nerve. Instead, Takash suggests, ask when the best times to meet with your manager are. Your consideration for their schedule won't go unnoticed.
Never wing it. Rehearse what you'll say and how you'll say it. "Succinctly explain up front why you're there and what you need from them," Takash says. But don't expect your boss to do all the problem solving. Come armed with your own ideas and potential solutions. "This is a crucial component for demonstrating leadership and initiative," Takash adds.
Get clarification. Griping about a boss' unclear communication style to a trusted friend or colleague won't get you far. Instead, Takash recommends asking your manager to clarify project details and prioritize their requests. A simple "I only have enough time left today to complete one of those proposals -- which do you want on your desk first?" might be all it takes.
Set follow-up dates. Another way to pin down an elusive boss is to wrap up each conversation with times or dates you'll each deliver on key tasks or follow up with one another, Takash says. Not only does this make your manager accountable to their commitments, it ensures you're accountable for any new projects heaped on your plate.
Ask for what you want. Finally, stop being your own worst enemy in the workplace. Too often, employees tell themselves their boss will never go for that shiny new idea, request for flexible hours, or appeal for additional responsibility. Instead, gather up the evidence about how your request will benefit the company. Practice and fine-tune your presentation. And then gather up your courage. Yes, it may be uunerving, Takash counsels. But if you don't ask, you almost certainly won't receive.
Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl, a career guide based on her 59 jobs over 40 years in 22 cities.
Kristen Fife is a senior recruiter, career mentor, blogger and resume consultant based in the Seattle area.
Lisa Quast is a certified career coach, mentor, business consultant, former corporate executive and author based in the Seattle area.
Randy Woods writes about job-search tools, networking techniques and other tips to help you land your dream job.
Matt Youngquist is the president of Career Horizons, a career counseling firm.
Natalie Singer is a Seattle writer, editor and small-business owner.
Michelle Goodman is the author of "My So-Called Freelance Life" and "The Anti 9-to-5 Guide."
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