Unless you are your own boss, you have probably uttered the words, or thought to yourself at one point or another, that your boss is driving you crazy. You may have muttered this under your breath, or shared this comment with a colleague, or someone outside your work circle.
Based on the dynamics of the typical boss and subordinate roles, it is quite likely that you will be annoyed by your boss now and then. This is normal, especially since the work is mainly flowing your way, without the ability to decline or limit the amount of assignments coming your way. Or is there?
Perhaps you have heard that everything is negotiable? It really is, but not everyone feels comfortable negotiating, so they simply accept the work that flows their way.
Those who have developed negotiating skills, even minor ones, tend to be much more satisfied with their bosses. Why? Because they are indirectly managing the situation. The best part of having a negotiating conversation with your boss, is that they may not be aware of the fact they are being managed by you.
So, if you are thinking, I do not like to negotiate, and my communication or debating skills are not up to the task, keep reading.
Similar to the belief that everyone has creative skills, if you can talk, you have to ability to also develop your negotiation skills.
At its most basic level, negotiating is about asking questions. You can do that! By asking questions about the assignment, your boss will be forced to confront whether what he or she is asking has been fully thought through.
You might be surprised how many times they have not thought through what they are asking you to accomplish, and are only serving as a middle man pushing assignments down from above. Negotiating also allows you to gain clarity on aspects of work (e.g., timeframe flexibility, who else can or should be involved, how is the success of the project outcome to be measured).
Here are five tips on how to manage your boss.
- At the beginning of the week, assess the mood of your boss. You can typically do this by having a brief conversation on Monday morning, or by checking in with one of your colleagues. If they are in a less than favorable mood, leave them alone until mid-day and then reassess. Monday mornings can be stressful. The beginning of the week is a popular time when the upper management team meets with your boss to review the status of how the business is going. Even if the stats are on track, this can impact the mood of your boss.
- Make sure you have a weekly assigned time to check in with your boss, even if it is for only 10 minutes each day, or once a week for 30 minutes. During any of these sessions, make sure you have set the agenda are driving the conversation. Setting the agenda puts you in charge. In essence, you are managing your boss.
- Clarify monthly or quarterly expectations. This is a critical component to managing your boss. As long as you are clear about the project and results of the work you are doing, and making sure during your weekly meetings that priorities have not changed, you will be in strong alignment with their expectations.
- Get to know your boss. Take time to go out to lunch or coffee with him or her once or twice a month to have a non-work conversation. If you do not do this, you run the risk of them not seeing you as a whole person, with other dimensions of your personality they may not be able to observe in the office. More and more people work remotely and may not have too many opportunities to meet with their boss in person, but when you do, make sure you go through this same exercise.
- Ask your boss to articulate how you can help them with your professional contributions to make them look good. This may seem awkward, but ask anyway, as most people do not know the answer, and may, in fact, be entirely wrong by making incorrect assumptions. Get the facts, work with them – another key way of managing your boss.
Depending on your career level, some of these suggestions would need to be modified, but most of these techniques actually can and will work. They have been applied successfully by people who are just starting out, all the way to the highest “C” level executives.
Managing your boss is a concept from which just about everyone can benefit. Test drive some of them and see if they work for you.
Kathleen E. R. Murphy is the Founder, Chief Performance Strategist and CEO of MarketMe Too. She is a Gallup Certified Strengths Coach, author of Wisdom Whisperer, and is a well-respected motivational and social influencer who has a global following from her numerous speaking, print, radio and television media appearances.
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