15 Ways to Connect with the Boss
Butting heads with the boss won’t help your career. You’ll be branded as a troublemaker regardless of who’s at fault.
Connect with higher-ups if you expect to move up.
Good performers, who connect with higher ups, move up faster and further than high performers who don’t. Resist this principle to your own harm.
15 ways to connect with the boss:
- Help your boss get where they want to go. That means you must understand their professional and organizational goals.
- Give them more information, if they keep asking about your work.
- Align with their style of communication. Do they prefer face-to-face, email, or phone?
- Let them determine the nature of your relationship. Are they casual or formal?
- Send a weekly update email that highlights your activities. Make it brief.
- Make things better with a minimum of negativity.
- Interact with your boss’s boss carefully.
- Deliver great results.
- Solve your own problems.
- Ask for advice.
- Say please and thank you.
- Send congratulatory notes.
- Disagree kindly, calmly, and with solutions.
- Speak hard truths in private.
- Don’t ask them to spend political capital on you.
Bonus: Be sincere and always act with integrity.
The way you lead the relationship with your boss is an indication of your leadership ability.
What are the best ways to connect with the boss?
No offense but with 80% employee disengagement this is kinda like advice on moving deck furniture in the Titanic.
I got two suggestions!! One figure out how to monetize your skills online and kiss working for others good bye.
The other is connect why’s with the boss, trust emerges and if you want to know what is going on with him or her just ask, Was Up!!
This Titantic of disengagement we call American Business is estimated to lose 385 Billion dollars a year with a B according to the lecture on Youthbe I heard today.
Just seems on a Blog about Leadership the elephant in the room would get more attention drawn to it.
385 Billion and seemingly everything is just peachy keen.
Thanks Scott. No offense taken.
For the sake of integrity; for self, for your boss, and for the organization as a whole, it’s important to be sincere. There’s a difference between manipulation and sincerity. A big one.
I know that if I was ‘the boss’ right now, I would want people that work with and for me to be sincere and honest. Not just doing things to manipulate how they will be able to move up in rank, etc.
Granted, every one has their own set point on where they draw the line. Obviously, the conscience of one may not be as sensitive as another. Personally, if I’m at odds with someone I work for and it can’t be resolved, ‘schmoozing’ doesn’t serve me OR the boss. You can’t trust manipulative people. Period.
So I’d say that people should do their best to have a clear conscience and heart when it comes to what they are doing and why they are doing it. (motives) Ultimately, we serve no one thru manipulation yet we serve the greater good when we have not only our own, but the bosses and the orgs best interests at heart. And that may eventually include finding another job if we can no longer SERVE the boss or organization wholeheartedly. Due to value issues, etc.
Even if people try to hide it, if a person has something against their boss, it will impact the dept, the team, the org in some way.
At the same time, a difference of opinion does not necessarily indicate disloyalty. In time, I believe people eventually KNOW when someone has their best interests at heart and care about them even though there will be times opinions differ, or there may be disagreements, etc. But the bottom line is all parties know that actions are in service to each other and the greater good.
Thanks for sharing Dan!
Thanks Samantha. Bingo! Faking diminishes everyone.
As an example, asking for advice, should never be a ploy. Glad you jumped in.
Do people often ask for advice that turns out to be a manipulation of sorts? If so, that would be frustrating.
As an afterthought, something else occurred to me on this whole topic. It may have come to mind because I’m technically without a boss right now so the question came to my mind that asked, why would we treat the boss any different then we would treat anyone else?
To do so, would be to show partiality. To be treating someone better then another based on rank, social status, ‘fame, wealth, etc. That’s partiality.
And from a bosses point of view, if the boss observed his or her employee treating a co-worker or anyone else as LESS then and then suddenly treats YOU (as the boss) as more special…would YOU be able to trust that person? Deep down in your bones?
I could be wrong, but I don’t believe you would. Their behavior would more then likely case a shadow of doubt when it comes to their sincerity with you.
Pay attention to the little things with people. Do they treat a waiter/waitress like garbage? How do they treat strangers or a homeless person? Then how do they treat someone of perceived ‘significance’, wealth, rank, position, etc? If there is a big difference, they aren’t trustworthy.
Thanks Samantha. How does treating the boss with their unique responsibilities in mind, sit with you.
Partiality feels like brown nosing. But, treating everyone the same – when they aren’t the same – doesn’t make sense to me either.
Yes, I see what you are saying Dan. That makes more sense.
And yes, that is exactly what showing partiality is. Brown nosing. I’ve seen it often up and down the ‘chain’. Heck…I see it every day on Twitter! And in special cliques etc.
Sometimes, as you and Dan both stated, it is important to disagree with the boss, even if he/she has strongly held opinions. It is important to make the disagreement on values and/or issues, not personal. It may require sacrificing a career for values. (Think of Joseph, Daniel, and his 3 friends in the Old Testament. They stood up to their bosses, paid the price, and did it without anger or personal attacks on their boss.)
Sometimes, if a matter is very close to our heart, we should be willing to lose status or perks to advance it. For example, Nehemiah, the trusted advisor to the most powerful man in the world, the king of the Persian empire, chose to take a leave of absence from that position to help a small remnant of Jews rebuild the walls of Jerusalem so they could thrive. He truly believed that was the best use of his time and resources, and approached the king to ask for a demotion so he could get the job done.
Agreed Marc. In cases like that, we are serving the greater good that goes above and beyond selfish motives and the boss. i.e. illegal actions etc. Having to make tough decisions that protects and serves the majority does NOT necessarily mean disloyalty to your boss, even though it may be perceived that way and feel like it. After all, I’m sure most of us have had to disagree at least once in our lives with someone we cared about , love, and or at one time highly respected.
Certainly not an easy thing to do. Yet who said serving was always EASY?
Thanks for the additional input, Marc.
Nicely said Marc. What we are willing to suffer for explains who we are.
Well said, thanks for sharing.
Very true Dan, Connecting with the boss is one of the most important factor to grow other than having technical knowledge and interpersonal skills.
Its on us whether we make our immediate boss ours guardian angel or Satan.
Thank you for the insights.
Thanks Aarya. We may not like it, but, the person who connects with the boss is better off than the one who doesn’t.
My two paise(as i am Indian 🙂 LOL )
1. For any problem, do not skip your manager and talk to the superior directly.
2. Always keep your boss in the loop so he is informed
Thanks Manikandan. Great add! Going over the bosses had is almost always perceived in a negative light.
Excellent post, Dan. Because most organizational structure are pyramids, most leadership that affects organizational outcomes is from the middle or the bottom, not from the top. Leading upwards to support the boss and influence him/her to act in a way that enhances organizational effectiveness is the best way for middle managers to exert influence. To explain, look at the following math:
Suppose I am a middle manager, with 7 direct reports, each with 7 direct reports of their own, for a total of 50 people in my sector (7×7 + me). Assume I am one of 6 other people at my level, reporting to the CEO, for a total of 351 people (7 x 50 + the CEO). Time spent leading and developing downwards affects at most 50 people, and if I concentrate exclusively on those reporting to me, I’ll create a silo.
Time spent collaborating with my peers can influence the entire group, but they will look towards our common boss for direction and resources. He in turn will address issues he feels are best for the company as a whole. To be effective as a middle manager, I need to ensure I’m aligned with the company’s mission, that those working for me are also aligned, and that I communicate effectively with my boss in the ways you suggest. I need to ensure that my boss knows I support the company’s mission and will do what I can to align my interests, my group’s, his, and those of my peers with that mission.
Thanks Marc. I always enjoy reading your comments.
During coaching session, I encourage leaders to establish the percentage of their time they want to spend leading down, leading laterally, and leading up. It’s often an eyeopener for them.
You know, I never did any of this stuff. Or rather, I did it if I genuinely respected my boss. If I did not, then I often showed it. Bad political behaviour, I think
Thanks Rajiv. I’m not sure if it’s bad or not. The idea of how to treat people we don’t respect is an important point of discussion. I love thinking about who I want to be when others disappoint.
The quran explains how to talk and treat people even if they are bad (such as moses encounter with pharaoh) so that we face no harm. If they listen they’ll benefit, if not they’ll be at loss and that is their issue. We cannot control peoples behaviour but we can control our actions. We can only decide on what we should or not do. This includes leaving the job (means leaving the boss and coworkers).
A lovely post with good comprehensive list of practical tips! These tips are useful for junior & middle level staff. However, I like your first statement, ‘Connect with higher-ups if you expect to move up’. Points 13 & 14 are also quite helpful to avoid possible conflicts.
Any tips for the boss how to deal with his team members/subordinates?
Thanks Dr. Asher.
Great question… I wonder if part of the answer is found in remember what it was like to be in their shoes. How did you want to be treated when you were there.
But, we also have to keep in mind that people are different from us. We could also fall into the trap of treating others the way WE want to be treated rather than the way they want to be treated.
Most subordinates want more information so they can feel “in” the loop.
Just some thoughts.
My bitter experience has taught me to be humble, fair and transparent in my approach. ‘Never ever use your position or authority to insult, degrade or throw an anger on subordinates!’
As a professional, I believe in creating and working with a team of deliverable with encouragement and motivation with a continuous progress checks with required guidance. The best thing is to work with objectivity backed by good systems & procedures.
…Where were you in 1981? 🙂 I had to pick this up through trial and error, error, error…
Thanks Ken. Me too!! 🙂
Show them Respect! Show them you care about your position as well as the workers, most important work with them not against them.
Thanks Tim. I keep getting these golden nuggets from you… work with not against.
I defintely agree with most of these, but I think #3 and #4 can easily lead to employee disengagement. Communication is a two way street and effective communication requires compromise, even between employees and subordinates.” “Align with their style of communication” without consideration of the employee smacks of incincerity and can also lead to communication issues if the boss’s preferred method doesn’t align with the employee’s communication style.
I think there should be an open and honest communication about the boss’s preferred communication style and under what situation which would be most effective for everyone involved. We know that email can often be perceived negatively, depending on the message delivered; however, depending on the number of subordinates, bosses can see it as a time-saver.
Your comment about the trap of “treating others the way WE want to be treated rather than the way they want to be treated” seems to reinforce #3, which may not be a good thing. I like Tim’s comment of “work with them, not against them.”
I could not agree more!! Now to get leaders on the same page.
Thanks, Dan. Great tips. I have a new boss, who, for many years had been my co-worker. Strange transition. What tips do you have for a person who may not be as skilled as previous supervisors, and only provide bits and pieces of info, rather than giving the big picture? I’ve communicated my need for more info, but still feel it hasn’t gone anywhere. She states that she’s “old school.” I’m not quite sure what that’s supposed to mean, but find it frustrating at times. Prior to her promotion, it wasn’t an issue. Any thoughts?
Thanks Heather. Transitions like the one you describe can be tough. The “I’m old school” comment my indicate some discomfort with growing into a leadership role, or, the feeling of being out of date.”
You might take a look at Karin Hurt’s new book, “Overcoming an Imperfect Boss,” http://amzn.to/1dsgafu
Thanks, I’ll check it out. Until then, I’ll try some of the tips above. Have a great day!
Try to remember: Every boss started out as a non-boss. Translation: He or she is a person – a human being – first.