How many times have you been in meetings and realized that you may have not told your Boss that little piece of information that would have prevented her from being grilled by her management and peers right now?
You watch helplessly as she visibly projects discomfort and desperately searches for reasons to provide why something that has happened, shouldn’t have?
What can you do now? What should you have done before, that may have prevented this agonizing scene playing out? And, what will the consequences be afterwards, for you?
Relationship building starts close. With our Boss. At times he or she may be the most important person in the Universe, because when things go wrong, we may well feel the wrath of the boss and all that entails. When that happens, all the things we hold dear are suddenly threatened, because with the potential loss of our job, the negative domino effect can also mean the loss of our office, our car, our mortgage, our planned vacation and our current style of life.
Our Boss will ask awkward questions and suggest ways that things could have been done better and we may well feel like squirming in our seat as he or she verbally spars, spears and dissects our role.
How do we ensure we are never in that situation? By thinking further than what our role is, more about what our Boss is trying to achieve and ways that we can help in accomplishing his or her goals.
There are two things that bosses don’t like. Surprises and problems. And they tend to come together. Let’s make sure we don’t provide either and examine how to make our boss look good. Here are 4 ways that should help make us and our boss look good:
1. Avoid Surprises
When I worked for Coca-Cola, I had a number of bosses and with each one I would try and ensure that if there was some bad news coming (such as sales being off or a contract not negotiated), they knew as soon as possible. This way, I had the opportunity of making sure it was served up with some positives, rather than becoming all doom and gloom.
They always appreciated hearing the bad news from one their own team, rather than someone else; where more than likely, some political negative spin would be put on it. Furthermore, with more time to think about it before anyone else heard, they had the opportunity to prepare solutions. Frequent updates are our best and only defense.
2. Bring Solutions
The second thing that bosses don’t like are problems. These can sometimes arise from surprises, but not always. I have learned about this one the hard way. As one boss eloquently told me, “Don’t come in here and tell how me how f*#@!d up everything is, tell me how we are going to fix it.”
I never forgot that and from then on, when we had a problem that needed to be resolved, I would meet him with several options that included pro’s and con’s for each one and a recommended solution.
My recommendation wasn’t always chosen. In fact, in many cases, other options were thought of and implemented. But that didn’t matter. What mattered was that I had thought about it and put myself in my boss’s position to help formulate a solution, rather than dumping yet another problem on her desk.
3. Use Our Initiative
Good and reliable information helps our management to be ahead of potential issues. When I worked on the customer side of the business, being out with customers all the time enabled me to gain first hand information or intel.
I would make sure that if I found out anything about progress, problems or pitfalls. I would leave a heads up voice mail for them with a summary of what I had learned, what the likely implications were and my recommendation. This type of regularly fed information allowed my bosses to be ahead of the game.
4. Be a Clear and Concise Communicator
We are all really busy nowadays as the plethora of digital media shouts and clamors for our increasingly fragmented attention. Our management has the same issue.
Therefore, whether using voice mail or e-mails, I would ensure I did not ramble, did not get subjective and stuck to the facts. I stated the issue clearly and made my points briefly. If detail was required, I would send an e-mail with an attachment. The suggested Action was at the beginning of the voice mail or e-mail, not at the end.
Such communication allows our bosses to quickly understand the issue and the point we are making. They can then cut and paste or just forward our communication leaving space, written or audibly for their own comments.
I have found that using these 4 initiatives will make sure we don’t have anymore of those seat squirming experiences. They will help our bosses and they help us think like our bosses, so that we will be better placed to soon occupy a similar chair.