Tips on how to get along with your boss.
Bosses. Few topics hit closer to home than our relationships with bosses (whether they be our past, present or future superiors). Everyone has a boss (even our boss has a boss!) It’s wise to know how to get our your boss’ good side. Here are some tips:
#1. It’s my job to get along with the boss. Most bosses want to get along with their employees. However, ultimately it is the employee’s responsibility to get along with the boss, irrespective of the boss’ skills or leadership direction. Set your expectations accordingly. I know of one executive who was determined to implement a program that would make his company a lot of money. His boss was wary and said not to do it. The executive went ahead anyway. He thought that pursing a good idea and making money would outweigh ignoring his superior. Instead of praise, the executive got fired. On the way out he said, “I was wrong. It’s my job to get along with the boss, not the boss’ job to get along with me.”
#2. Establish your working relationship early. Knowing how to talk to your supervisor is important. How much communication does the boss want? When do they want it? Does the boss want to know every detail or do they just want the big stuff? When will you meet to consult with the boss? When you first start a job, meet with your boss. Ask him/her to detail what the ideal relationship looks like.
#3. Keep short accounts. Any boss/employee relationship is going to have challenges. Establish an agreement with your boss to keep short accounts. This means that he/she has the freedom to speak to you about any difficult subject right away. In turn, you have the freedom to tell your boss about difficult things. This keeps problems and offenses from building up in your working relationship.
#4. Have a “No Surprises Policy”. Nobody likes surprises, especially the boss. Create brief “heads up” conversations (or emails) with the boss that let him/her hear news from you first.
#5. Speak truth to power. Sometimes we see things the boss is missing. When appropriate, let the boss know what you are seeing. This must be done with a spirit of humility and with the boss’ best interest in mind. There is an element of risk to this. However, properly done it will create trust and value in your relationship.
#6. Be aware of timing. Know your boss’ working rhythms. Give him/her the right information and actions at the right time. For instance, asking for a favor at a time when your boss is drained isn’t a good idea. Conversely, if the boss is a morning person, asking first thing is wise.
Chick-fil-A’s first president, Jimmy Collins, became wildly successful getting along with his boss (company founder Truett Cathy). In his book Creative Followership, Collins offers this wisdom on how to have a great relationship with your boss:
Hire your boss. You aren’t just taking a job, you’re committing to follow a leader. Don’t look for a job, look for a boss. Work for someone you like, respect and is going places. People don’t quit companies; they quit lousy bosses.
Helping someone else succeed is my quickest path to success. Follow a good leader and we will be caught up in their success. If their strengths complement ours (and vice-versa), both are stronger on the climb to the top. A trusted follower shares the reputation of the leader, as well as much of the leader’s influence.
Make good on promises. When we say we’re going to do something, do it. If it doesn’t work, do what it takes to make it work. Delivering builds credibility.
Getting ahead means doing what the boss does not like to do. If the boss knows we’ll do what he/she doesn’t like to do, the boss will work hard to keep us and promote us. Offer to help with a task in the boss’ area of weakness, or just get the task done on your own. Your influence will grow. It’s how to get along with a difficult boss.
Do the dirty and difficult jobs. Do the best job ever done with them and your personal stock will rise.
Do more than is expected. You will not go far doing only what is expected. Doing more will give you a sense of accomplishment that far exceeds simply getting the job done. It gives the boss every reason to support and promote you.
Do not wait to be told what to do. Exceed expectations even when the boss isn’t looking.
Do not compete with the boss. Our role is to work for the boss, not against the boss. The employee never comes out the winner when competing with the boss.
Authority comes packaged with responsibility. More authority can be gained by taking responsibility. This is a way to gain authority in bits and pieces. It’s a way to gain authority without having it given to you. If you sometimes overstep, don’t slow down. Simply find another way to do it so that the boss will like it.
Do things the way the boss likes them done. It will be easier for him/her to support. It also endears you to the boss and make you more promotable.
Let others see the boss in you. Present ideas with unified purpose (people may not even know whether an idea is yours or the boss’.) When people see management in unity, they are more confident in their own roles and feel empowered to follow management’s example.
Help your boss succeed. This is the reason you were hired! Know your organization’s vision for the future and help achieve it. Assist your leader in gaining the support of others.
Build support in advance. To effectively support your boss, you must be able to win the support of others. Build buy-in before key meetings. This allows people to know in advance how to better support an idea… or if there are going to be major problems. People in key positions do not like to be blindsided.
Encourage the boss. Do you know who needs the most encouragement but gets the least? The boss. We typically hear about encouragement coming down the chain of command, but we seldom think about how beneficial it is moving up the organizational chart.
MORE TIPS FOR WORKING WITH YOUR BOSS
Thank you for reading Rob Cizek – Practical Leadership. If you would like to know when new posts are available, simply enter your email address below: