Strategies & Tactics

9 Ways to Interact Effectively With Your Boss

June 1, 2018

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“Managing up, or building smooth, productive relationships with higher-ups, requires understanding and adapting to your boss’s communication and decision-making style,” according to The Wall Street Journal. “Many people are promoted because of the quality of their work. But as newly minted managers aim to rise in the ranks, assuming their work will speak for itself becomes increasingly hazardous to their careers.”

While some bosses explain to their staff how and when they want to communicate, others are not so specific. Clarify if they want updates from you daily, weekly or only when you have something noteworthy to report. Also find out if they prefer receiving updates via phone, instant messaging, email or face-to-face.

Don’t take a superior’s management style personally, offer solutions and ideas to problems, respect their time, understand their priorities and learn what motivates them.

To effectively interact with your boss, follow these rules of engagement:

  1. Figure out and adapt to your boss’s communication style by watching them interact with others.
  2. Seek agreement on how and when to update your boss on your work.
  3. Ask yourself whether tensions with the boss may be a problem of clashing styles rather than more fundamental conflicts.
  4. Avoid escalating problems to the boss too quickly, before you’ve tried solving them yourself.
  5. When you bring the boss a problem, also bring at least one potential solution.
  6. If you must disagree with your boss, then do it privately, in a calm voice and during a low-stress time.
  7. Don’t bad-mouth your boss behind their back.
  8. Never embarrass your boss in front of others.
  9. Avoid overload by asking your boss for help with prioritizing projects, rather than just saying no.

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