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6 ways to work better with your boss

July 21, 2009 11:13 IST

A smooth working relationship with the boss can have a telling impact on your overall job satisfaction and morale.

We've all worked for the do-nothing supervisor who shoots down every attempt at independence from any of his subordinates. In such instances, you must strive to balance pleasing your boss and driving results. Here are some pointers on how to build a better working relationship with your boss.

Anticipate the boss's need
Nothing will appeal more to your supervisors than anticipating their needs. Instead of providing the boss the routine results (as others do), try delivering something above and beyond. Anticipate what will be required of your immediate supervisor. Move to meet the need before he/she knows the information is required. Anticipating the need builds credibility and reputation. This demonstrates a passion for the mission and an ability to develop a vision.

If you can do this consistently then you have opened the doors to greater responsibility. For example, if your boss asks for last week's numbers, deliver them with a chart showing the trends for the past several weeks and maybe even a forecast for the next couple of weeks.

Set up regular meeting time
Regular one-on-one interaction with the boss will help you understand his/her perspective and also discuss concerns. Don't wait for the boss to call on you. It's your responsibility to seek time and strengthen the relationship.

You do not need to be specific about the issues when you do this. Simply state that you have some concerns to discuss, and want to be sure that you will both have time to address them without interruption. Not only does this ensure that you will be given an appropriate amount of time for discussing your concerns, but it is respectful of the other person's time as well.

Communicate regularly
Communicate with your peers and especially those above you in different expertise areas. Get out of your silo. Develop a sense of what is going on in the company. Use your industry knowledge, expertise and experience to anticipate the needs of your senior management and not just your immediate supervisor. Find solutions for senior managers outside of your immediate department. Meet with them monthly for lunch. This isn't political; it is a discussion of the state of the business.

Demonstrate knowledge, expertise and make suggestions based on facts. They may not agree, but you have made it known you care about the overall company mission. The fact that you care about the business will get communicated to your boss as well.

Understand the preferred style of communication
Learn your superior's preferred style of receiving information. One of the best ways is to give them the information on the overall work status, whether it's a quick email, a detailed report, alternatives and evaluations of those alternatives, or merely a bullet point list of facts. It's important to understand whether your boss prefers emails, phone calls or meetings to receive information. This can be vital particularly when you don't clearly understand your task and need clarification. Communicate frequently but in the method that the boss prefers.

Don't waste their time
Lack of preparation is a killer when it comes to building a positive relationship with the boss. Don't waste his/her time; come prepared to meetings and also be flexible to set aside your agenda and update if they need to discuss an issue with you. Become their sounding board. Be prepared with your own ideas for a solution, and suggest them if you are not satisfied with the solutions offered.

Become visible
This goes against the conventional wisdom of letting your work speak for itself. While most employees want to work for a 'star boss', even your boss wants a 'star performer' in their team. Position yourself as a go-to person for him/her -- know that you might get assignments that are tough to execute because they have come to count on you to deliver.

Deeksha Singh is a Managing Partner at WCH Training Solutions, a New Delhi-based training and consulting firm.

Deeksha Singh