6 Ideas To Manage Your Boss

By Rick Houcek

Last Thursday, Steve, a senior executive client of mine, calls me with a problem.

“I’m not getting any air time with my boss,” he says.  “I’ve got big ideas to share, problems I want to bounce off her, status on projects she needs to hear.  I want her input.  And often I need approval before I can go to the next step.  I need help pinning her down!  What can I do?”

I said, “Stop.  Let’s back up.  It sounds like it’s time that YOU manage your boss.  You need to take control to do with her, all those things that she should be doing with you – but isn’t.”

Have you ever faced this?  Well, here are 6 ideas I gave Steve.  And they can work for you too.

  1. Respect your boss’s time. Remember she’s busy.  So what’s the solution?  Meet by appointment only.  Don’t just pop in the door and blurt out, “Got a couple seconds?”  Plan meetings in advance.  Schedule appointments.  Get on her calendar.
  1. Ask to schedule a same-time meeting every week or month. This creates regularity and routine and gives you the face-time and air-time you need.  Get your boss in the habit of meeting with you at a set, repetitive day and time.  Make these conversations confidential and one-on-one – no one else – and meet out of the office if necessary so that you’ve got a captive audience.  And, make sure you turn off your cell phones and any other electronic devices, so you’ve got full attention.
  1. Be clear in where you want to go in the company. What’s your upward path? I asked Steve, “Have you ever told your boss where you want to go?  What’s the next job you’d like at the company?”

    His answer, “No, I haven’t, but I do have a position in mind I want.”

    Well, what about you?  Have you ever told your boss?  Well, tell him or her.  And then tell them you want and need their support to get there.  And then create, together, a personal development plan that will take you down that path.  And build in milestones that you’ll accomplish with due dates for each.  And then, promise to work diligently at it.  And do it.  Don’t miss any deadlines.

  1. Use the scheduled meetings to update on big initiatives you’re working on. Tell your boss what they are; what’s the status of each; and what’s your ‘go forward’ action plan.  Keep her in the loop and bring this to every meeting.  This makes everything transparent – big projects and next steps that you’ll take – and helps you get necessary approvals.
  1. Ask for the order. Don’t shy away from this.  If you want something and don’t go for it, you have no one to blame but yourself.  See yourself as a salesperson – and your boss is your prospect.  So, be clear in what you want, present it clearly, and close the deal.  She’ll respect you for it.
  1. Beg forgiveness rather than ask permission. This, frankly, is my favorite.  Most bosses appreciate this.  They want self-starters that get moving, stay moving, and don’t need a kick in the tail.  So many times it’s better that you just go do it rather than ask permission… and frankly for me, I would rather be called on the carpet for moving too fast and doing something I shouldn’t have done… than for waiting around and wasting time.  Muster the courage to act without permission, and risk the consequences.  Just make sure you have a brilliant, pragmatic, beneficial reason for doing it – so it’s defendable.

There you have ‘em.  Try these 6 ideas to manage your boss.  Good things will happen.

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