Manage your boss!

You can find thousands of books and articles dedicated to managers on how to motivate, inspire and lead employees, but you don’t see too many written on employees “managing” their boss. In this post I would like to share a few secrets and ideas on how to “manage” your boss. Managing your boss effectively creates a stronger working relationship that just might provide you the opportunity that you’ve always wanted!

First, I would like to define what I mean by “managing.” By managing, I mean to actually better control the outcome of your relationship with your boss and improve communication; moreover, allow you to guide your career in the right direction and have many more opportunities. Although I firmly believe these tactics will work on all superiors, it should be noted that there are always exceptions, so test the waters in these rare cases.

1. Don’t Promise Too Much

Most employees want to impress their boss and as a result, often times promise too much. Initially, everyone is very excited and committed. However, if you over commit and under deliver, you will been seen as someone that cannot either plan properly or do not have the skills and ability to fulfill the task. This creates stress for everyone and leads to professional disappointment. I don’t mean to set the bar low, but do be realistic. Setting challenging, but attainable targets/milestones/timelines will ensure you over deliver. This demonstrates that you have researched well, planned well, managed well and provided the solution or project within the stated timelines. You will shine and receive praise. This is where you always want to be! The more you over deliver, the more trust you build and the more opportunities for bigger and more important projects or initiatives you will receive.

2. Ask for Advice

Most bosses want to feel needed and appreciated. Asking for advice allows your boss to interact with you in a positive and professional manner. Don’t go to your boss with problems seeking solutions. Spend time on your idea, problem or difficulty and come up with possible solutions or remedies yourself… then review with your boss. This demonstrates your ability to identify problems/opportunities and to think logically. Your boss will feel needed and will gladly work with you on solutions or next steps. Most importantly, this creates a professional interaction that leads to more trust. Are you fearful of going to your boss with any issue? Start small. For example, if you are in sales and have a weakness for business development, seek advice from your boss by informing him you want to improve in this area and any advice he could give would be greatly appreciated.

3. Be Professional

Always address your boss properly. I see too many times in emails, in telephone or video conferences and even in face-to-face meetings, employees being a bit too casual. When sending correspondence, specifically an email, make sure you address your boss properly by using “Dear” or “Hi/Hello” and their name (first or last depending on the county you work in) and then your message. End with a proper thank you or kind regards. Emails that are simply one or two sentences, without acknowledging professional etiquette are to be avoided. Some bosses may see this as a little disrespectful, and most of them will assume if you are “too casual” with them, you are doing the same with colleagues, company partners or vendors and clients. This will limit your opportunities.

4. Be Thoughtful

This one might be a little controversial to some, but I highly advise to be thoughtful. Always know your bosses birthday, special activities, etc. and acknowledge them all in some way. How you do it is up to you, but you must recognize them. There are many opportunities in the year to send a card or a simple note. They absolutely make a big positive difference. Moreover, many countries have gift giving seasons such as in the summer or at the start of the New Year. Always send the gift! You will be seen as thoughtful and this is a very strong quality to raise in management and or to manage clients. Go the extra mile and collect a little money from each team member and give collectively as a team or department. You will be seen as taking initiative and that you care, by your boss and your colleagues.

5. Volunteer

Volunteering, especially for things that your boss may not be immediately aware of is key. For example, you could organize an after work welcome party for new comers, to celebrate the success of good fiscal performance or to celebrate some sort of holiday. You could take it further by volunteering to be the team/department/company leader to support a charity, clean up or relief effort for disasters or for other worthy causes. Stepping up and asking to do something, or doing something on your own beyond your daily work shows that you have enthusiasm and passion for others. All bosses want employees that go beyond what is required.

6. Solve Something

Do you have any thoughts or ideas on how to solve a large problem, to improve productivity or any other ideas that are for the betterment of the company? Take time to research a solution or to put together ideas to “pitch” your boss. If you are consistently looking to help the company be more efficient, you will be seen as a professional that takes control and puts in the work for positive change. Do not, however, go to your boss with criticism, complaints or incomplete ideas. This will have a negative effect and must be avoided.

7. Be Flexible

Be flexible when you know your boss is having a bad day or when he or she is very busy. When your boss is flat out and has a full plate, respect their time and don’t bother them with petty issues. Oh, and never give them more work if you are able to manage something on your own. Also, if you have a non-urgent meeting scheduled, be thoughtful and suggest that you meet on a different day as you know he or she is very busy. Not only will this gesture be greatly appreciated, but will also give you a chance to have your boss in a more relaxed state. This will give you proper time to meet and you will also have your boss’ focused attention. This shows that you are observant and are willing to be proactively flexible.

8. Show Enthusiasm

I see too many times that people in many companies not showing the amount of interest and enthusiasm, be they during challenging times or simply in daily routines. Say good morning to colleagues, smile and always be the cheerleader! Being a professional means to put on a professional, positive and optimistic face even when you are having a bad day. Enthusiastic and positive people attract others and your boss will be one of them!

9. Be Complimentary

When your boss does something good, be complimentary. Don’t be fake. Make time to find out your bosses success and recognize him or her for it. Also, don’t be afraid to give other simple complements, such as great meeting or thank you very much for your advice and explain how it worked. Oh, and everyone likes a professional compliment on their appearance every now and then!

Managing your boss can be tricky, but it is not hard. By showing your boss that you care, are interested, engaged and committed and that you want to make a difference will make your boss and senior management notice you. By employing these “secrets”, you will fast track your career progression path and who knows, you may end up getting your dream role or post! Please note that this is the recipe. By only doing one or two is like making a cake without eggs. You can do it, but the best taste comes with using all ingredients and following the recipe in full! What are you waiting for, start cooking… I mean managing!

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