The one word that is a real conversation starter is the word ‘Boss’. You are bound to get a reaction from every person that has ever had a boss on the mere utterance of that word. Well, truth be told, your Boss is the most important person in your career. More important than your customers, colleagues, Super Boss (Boss’s Boss) or any other stakeholder in your company. Irrespective of the kind of Boss you have, I believe it is totally up to you to make the most of this ‘most important person in your career’. If you have a great Boss, you will learn a lot. If you have ‘the Boss from hell’ – well, you’ll actually end up learning a lot more.
I realized during the tenure of my first job, that your Boss can make or break your career. Your company’s senior management always looks at you through the prism of your Boss. If your Boss does not think highly of you, very rarely will the management above him think highly of you.
So, is the solution to this problem SUCKING UP to your boss?? Sucking up may work in the short run. But if there is one thing that really works universally when it comes to the Boss, it is respect. Real respect. You may not agree with everything that the Boss says, but you definitely need to be respectful of your Boss.
Here are a few other ideas that Young Professionals may find useful:
a. Express your views, but do what needs to be done.
Remember that your Boss has been through the circumstances that you are going through right now. Your Boss has definitely worked hard (or worked hard at least to know the right people) to reach the position he/she is in today. So this is your time to serve. Express your opinion in a respectful manner (“in my limited understanding of this subject..”, “..this is what I think”) but get the job done as per the brief given to you by your Boss. This will ensure that you are making your Boss aware of a different perspective that you may have on the topic of discussion without actually offending or challenging their position.
b. Always follow protocol.
However tempting or career forwarding your ideas may seem, always follow the protocol your Boss lays out for you. Don’t mark your Super Boss on mails that you are not supposed to. Take initiative. Be enthusiastic. But avoid being cocky. Like State Functions & Ceremonies, companies have an unwritten protocol that needs to be adhered to. If you pay close attention to your Boss, you will understand what the protocol means to him/her. That’s what the protocol should mean to you too. When in doubt, please ask your Boss.
c. You and your Boss are a team
To the company and the world outside, you and your Boss should always be a team. Ensure that you don’t spring up a surprise on your Boss in meetings by bringing up facts that have not been discussed by you’ll earlier. If you have to make a new point during meetings involving people other than you and your Boss, always run the idea of your Boss. Let him/her get the credit for the idea. Or ask him/her whether you should mention it all. Your Boss is usually most insecure during such meetings. Don’t ever give the impression that you are trying to get one up on him/her.
d. Remember, you are almost never competing with your Boss for a promotion or a salary hike. Instead, Compliment your Boss.
e. Sorry works best with Bosses across all continents.
Avoid arguing with your Boss over silly issues (like the Boss saying “I gave you that file, 2 weeks back” – when he/she actually has not). Keep your debates for issues that are more important for the company. End petty arguments with a quick meaningful sorry. Your ego can destroy your relationship with your Boss.
f. Build a Great Relationship with your Boss.
Consciously work towards building an excellent relationship with your Boss. Your Boss will always have a lot of interesting stories to tell. Use the Lunch breaks to build rapport with your Boss.
g. And MOST Importantly…Make your Boss the Hero.
If you work towards making your Boss the hero… he/she will work towards making you the hero. Work hard towards making them look good.
Do these ideas always work? Hell No. Will following (the word actually is adapting) these ideas improve your equation with your boss over night? Probably not. But what’s important to understand is that your Boss is the gateway to your success and having a great working relationship with him will only ensure that you succeed faster.
So make amends to what you’re doing right now. Don’t wait for your boss to become a better leader to you. You become a better team player for him.