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How To Manage Your Boss

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You can’t control your boss, but you can control your own attitudes, emotions and work style.

Ask your boss when the two of you can talk without interruption. You might say, “I’d like to talk with you about how I can do my job better. I think this could benefit both of us. Do you have some time this week when we could talk? I would really be interested in your input.” That way, it doesn’t sound like you want to have a complaint session.

Clarify the issues in your mind, then write them down. When you go in to talk with your boss, you will have a list of what you want to discuss. If you need to point out a problem area or a specific need, offer suggestions as to how you could help solve it. For example, “I know you’ve been very busy lately and haven’t had time to do my performance appraisal. It would really help me do a better job if I could get your input from an evaluation. Maybe I could stay late and take one or two tasks off your hands to free up some time for you.”

Remember, empathy and understanding is a two-way street. Put yourself in your boss’s shoes. Is your boss under a lot of stress? With today’s economy in a downturn many bosses are feeling an immense amount of stress and even burnout. Since more and more organizations are bottom-line oriented, upper-management sometimes doesn’t take the time or reward caring, people-oriented middle-managers. Your boss may sincerely want to make things better, but might feel frustrated in his efforts by top management.

Here is where you can manage your boss. Offer support and you will likely get support in return. Believe it or not, he’s human too. If you want a promotion, need a leave of absence or some other personal issue, begin the conversation by asking your boss what you can do to make his job easier. Be willing to take on some task that you may not like; later, you may get a chance to do something you really want to do. Don’t be afraid to speak up when you have a need.

Here are some other tips to remember when communicating with your boss:

•   Develop a specific list of wants that the boss can reasonably implement.
•   Turn the tables; give your boss sincere, appropriate appreciation. Make sure it is sincere – people know when its not real.
•   Don’t be demanding. If you appear to be unwilling to negotiate about your wants, your appeal will fall on deaf ears.
•   Be open and honest. You may walk out of the meeting with your boss without getting all your wants, but you will still have your most valuable asset…your integrity.


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