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Tag Archives: communicating upwards

When you offer to help, you enhance your relationship with your manager

Last week, in my second post in my recent ongoing series about how to improve your working relationship with your manager, I gave you a “don’t” – don’t correct your boss in front of others.  Today, I want to cover one last (at least for now) piece of advice in this series – look for ways to help.

Offer to help

Build a stronger relationship with your managerAsk your manager if she needs assistance with any project or initiative she has on the go.  Many bosses have very full plates, and like most of us, they’re not always good about asking for help.  But when you offer, when you ask if you can lend a hand, your swamped manager will often gratefully accept.  Sure, you’ve likely got enough to do already, but when you show a willingness to push beyond the day-to-day and take on more than your core responsibilities, you’re sending a very positive message about yourself.  And it’s a message that carries a great deal of weight when it comes to advancement opportunities. Continue reading

If you want a stronger relationship with your manager, don’t correct him in front of others

Earlier this week, I resurrected a topic that I’ve covered in the past, specifically some ideas on how to build a stronger working relationship with your manager.  Monday’s post was about putting yourself in the boss’s shoes.

Don’t correct your boss in front of others

Building a better working relationship with your manager

Today is a “don’t” – something you should never do – which is, correct your boss in front of others.  Now I’m not saying that your manager is always right (that’s simply not possible!), nor am I saying that you shouldn’t correct him; what I am saying is choose the time and place to advise him of his error.  And the time and place is always later, privately.

Going back to Monday’s post for a moment, put yourself in the boss’s shoes.  It can be embarrassing to be corrected by a subordinate (or for that matter anyone) in front of other people.  This is true even if what you are saying is a legitimate correction.  Continue reading

Build a better working relationship with your manager by putting yourself in his shoes

Last year I did a series of three posts on the blog about specific actions you could take to build a stronger working relationship with your manager.  A recent conversation with two staff members at a client organization brought this topic to the top of my mind again, so I thought it was time to add three more to the list.

Put yourself in your manager’s shoes

Build a better relationship with your manager

Today’s tip – when dealing with a particular issue, put yourself in your boss’s shoes.  See things from his perspective.  What is his concern or challenge with the proposed course of action?  What alternatives or solutions can you offer that will mitigate the negative impact?  Anticipate the questions that your manager might ask and make sure you have thoughtful answers that demonstrate that your objectives mirror his.  Do this often enough and you’ll be perceived as a reliable go-to person on the team.

Your relationship with your manager will improve if you understand his pressures

In much the same way, when your supervisor or manager does or says something that you think doesn’t make any sense, put yourself in her shoes.  Continue reading

Build a stronger working relationship with your boss by jointly setting priorities

Business Meeting: Professional Successful Team; Managing DirectoFor the last couple of posts, I’ve been talking about actions you can take to strengthen your working relationship with your boss.  Earlier this week, it was about building trust through consistency in behaviour and action.  Today I want to cover one final topic in this series – how to address conflicting priorities with the full support of your manager or supervisor.

Conflicting priorities are a reality in every single client organization I work with.  Whether they are originating directly from your boss, or from a variety of senior people with whom you have working relationships, it’s not unusual to find yourself in a situation where you’ve got too much to do, not enough time to get it done, and all expected to be done at the same time.  In such situations, it’s easy to get overwhelmed.  But there is a solution that can not only ease the pressure but also allow you to strengthen your relationship with your boss at the same time.  Set your priorities jointly with your manager.  This is a lot easier that you might realize.

Boss [insert your manager’s name here], Roger has requested the sales forecast by tomorrow, and we’ve also got the Board presentation and your legal team briefing document that need to be finished right away.  I’m thinking of prioritizing the Board presentation and getting that completed first since it may require additional review.  What do you think?

Did you see what I just did?  I just accomplished several things.  First, I let the boss know that I have conflicting priorities, so he is now part of the solution.  Second, I started a dialogue about how to rank several important tasks and the ensuing conversation will give me greater insight into what my boss considers to have the greatest urgency.  Third, whatever approach I now take, my boss is on board and supportive of it, which means that even if things don’t turn out exactly the way we expected, I can still count on the boss to have my back.  Bottom line: jointly setting priorities makes this a team effort, and if you can do that, you’ve strengthened your relationship with your boss.

Comments?  Please share your thoughts below.

Want a stronger relationship with your boss? Consistency builds trust

Business people talking togetherLast week I started a short series on definitive actions you can take to improve your working relationship with your boss with a post about tailoring your presentations.  Today I want to continue on that subject by highlighting the importance of consistency, both in the quality of the work you do for him or her, as well as in your behaviour.

Your ultimate goal in your working relationship with your boss should be to get to a point where s/he trusts you; trusts you to step in, take charge, act appropriately, get things done, and to bring issues and problems to a successful conclusion.  And trust comes from consistency.  Establish a consistent track record of professional behaviour, level-headed responses, sound decision-making, and quality work.  If your boss knows that she can count on you to deliver outcomes similar to what she might have done herself, then she is more likely to trust you to act on her behalf.  If he can be confident that you will act in manner that will not come back to haunt him later, then you are well on your way to becoming a reliable right-hand.

However, don’t fall into the trap that I have observed in many a workplace – the “slacking off” mistake.  Continue reading

Build a stronger working relationship with your boss by tailoring your presentations

Woman Making A Business Presentation To A GroupIn September 2013, I wrote a series of three blog posts focused on how to build a stronger working relationship with your boss.  Specifically, I covered keeping your boss informed, learning more about his style, and finding out her objectives.  So I thought I’d take another look at this important topic in the next three blog posts.  And today, I want to address the importance of tailoring your presentation approach so that it matches your boss’s.

Some senior leaders are detail people who appreciate in-depth background information, and others are big-picture thinkers who value concise recommendations.  The former usually expect full contextual data, but the latter just want a “one-pager” that gives them everything they need to know at a glance.  Take the time to understand which one your boss is, or at least what end of the continuum s/he tends towards.  You can do this in a couple of ways.  Continue reading

How to persuade and influence senior management

CFMD_OctNov2013As your skills as an exceptional leader and communicator grow, your level of interaction with your organization’s senior management will increase as well.  You’ll find yourself in situations where your ability to persuade and influence others will stand you in good stead.  For continued success, it’s important to realize that how and what you communicate needs to adapt to fit differing audiences.  Specifically, you need to adjust your message and method of delivery so that it’s relevant and meaningful for an audience of senior managers.  And this is exactly the subject of an article I was recently invited to write for the Canadian Facility Management and Design Magazine.

Selling to Senior Executives was penned as part of the magazine’s regular Management Memo column, and in it, I offer four suggestions to significantly increase the likelihood that a facility manager’s message is heard, respected and acted upon.  Continue reading

Build a stronger working relationship by learning more about your boss’ style

Last week I started a series of blog posts on how to build a stronger relationship with your boss by talking about the importance of keeping your boss informed.

Conversation of  business peopleContinuing with that series, here’s a second idea: learn more about your boss’ style.  Is he a big picture or a detail person? Does she prefer to work with in-depth background information or summarized recommendations? Does he have a tendency to micro-manage or is he comfortable with a more hands-off approach?  When you know more about your boss’ style, you can flex your style to become more useful and reliable to him or her.  Don’t be afraid to ask specific questions about your boss’ working style. Listening and acting on the answers is just good sense — it will set you well on the path to repeated success. Continue reading

Build a stronger working relationship by keeping your boss informed

Your ultimate career success as a leader depends on how well you build relationships with the people around you, and that most definitely includes your boss.  Usually on this blog, we discuss relationships with employees, but today and for the next few posts, I want to switch it up a little; I want to talk about what you’re doing to build a solid relationship with your boss.

TelephoneCanHere’s one thought — keep the boss informed.  The worst thing is for the boss to hear “it” from someone else, particularly if it’s unpleasant information.  Make it a habit to update the boss regularly, perhaps a coffee conversation every few days, or a quick email summary once a week.  If it’s bad news, don’t put it off.  Bad news is like bad food, the longer it sits the worse it tastes.  Take a deep breath and get on with it. Continue reading

The top five reasons your employees won’t give you feedback

Rell DeShaw is a manager in Canada’s federal public service and I met her at the National Managers’ Community Development Forum in Winnipeg this past May.  She is not only an exceptional leader but also an avid learner and teacher, seeking to discover and share resources with others.  She is the author of her own blog Letter to a New Manager, and a few weeks ago I asked her if she would guest here on Turning Managers into Leaders.  Much to my delight, she agreed!

I believe in giving upward feedback … but I subscribe to the theory that the higher up you go, the less willing people are to give you honest feedback.  Unfortunately, because of the perceived power imbalance, many employees won’t bother telling you what they really think.  Here are their top five reasons why they won’t AND my rebuttals to these rationales.

  1. It’s the leader’s job to give me feedback not the other way around. Like any relationship, your relationship with your boss goes two ways, so as long as feedback is given in a way that has the potential to strengthen the relationship, it can be done.
  2. They should already know this – don’t managers get trained? No matter how much training a manager takes, the fact is that they have never managed you. They can’t read your mind and they may forget that they are not managing a clone of themselves. Of course your boss has preferences about how they want to work and ultimately they get the last word. But you won’t know if there is room for change until you ask.
  3. I’ll probably get fired for insubordination. That is certainly possible if you choose to give the feedback in a disrespectful way but I think that the better way to approach it is that you were both hired to work for the same goal. If you have a suggestion to change the working relationship to be more effective in reaching a common result, why wouldn’t you propose it? In upward feedback discussions I always ask myself “What’s in it for them?” and “What’s in it for the organization?” Without good answers to these two questions, I am not yet ready to have an upward feedback discussion.
  4. If they wanted my feedback they’d have asked for it. Yes in an ideal world they would have, but this doesn’t mean you can’t offer it anyway. It won’t occur to some, some don’t know how to ask, some don’t think they’d get any feedback even if they tried.
  5. I have no reason to believe this will be effective. Some ways to test the water without actually talking to your boss include: Doing back door checks to see how they have reacted to feedback in the past. If the person doesn’t “suffer fools gladly” it may not be worth it. It is however a good sign of the person has done a 360 degree feedback exercise.

So, what do you have to add to this list?  What are your reasons for not giving (or giving) feedback to your boss?  Let’s add to this great list that Rell has started.  Please add your Comments below.

You can dialogue with Rell through her blog at Letter to a New Manager.