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Managing Your Boss: Getting in the Trenches of Office Politics

Aha Moment: Managing your boss allows you to write the narrative of how you and your work are perceived.

You put a lot of effort into managing your career and managing the effort you put into your work.

Have you considered managing your boss?

Maybe you’re wondering just what that means!

The truth is, your ability to manage your boss has a big impact on how she or he will perceive the work you do and you as a person.

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There are a number of factors that play into molding the opinion your superiors form.

Don’t assume

Your boss may not know how good you are, what you’re capable of or the true impact of your work.

Much of the time, work is checked off as done, without any investigation into “how” it was performed or the skills you used.

It’s your job to make sure your methods and the impact you feel your work will have is known. This is how your employer learns how capable you are, which can put you in a good position for the future.

Here are three tips on managing your boss.

How to Manage Your Boss With Ease

1. Give your own feedback

Most people will wait for their boss or other superior to provide them with feedback.

When you’re managing your boss, you need to flip the script.

You should constantly be self-evaluating and sharing those results.

There are a couple specific areas you should focus on:

  • Where you feel you’re strong. In other words, toot your own horn a bit. Be open about the areas in which you know you are doing a great job.
  • Areas you’re looking to develop. In this way, you’re writing the script. You’re informing your boss of the areas you’ll be improving upon. When your boss is giving you work, he is more likely to give you opportunities to develop the disciplines you have highlighted.

When you’re guiding the general conversation, you’re effectively writing your own performance review.

2. Understand what’s important to your boss

Sometimes you focus on the things that are important to you, though they aren’t the same things that are important to your boss.

Here are some ways to determine what your boss deems significant:

  • Look at the people she meets with regularly. What topics is she interested in, what connections does she have, what results have an effect on her professional advancement? Determine how you’re associated with these projects or initiatives.
  • Know the skills he’s looking to develop. Find out the areas in which he is trying to improve and help out. In a subtle form of reverse-mentoring, learn something new and share it with your boss. He’ll look good and it will show him that you’re valuable. You’re essentially managing your boss’ ability and putting yourself in a position of strength.

People often leave a boss, not a company. Managing your boss is a way to be strategic about your career and more efficient in driving higher levels of performance.

3. Let your boss get to know you

You want your boss to see you for the person you are, not just the worker you are.

Allow your superior to learn the things you value. Build a relationship based on getting to know the real you.

There are four dimensions in which your boss should have an understanding of the person you are beyond your job description  –  and in reverse, you should have this understanding of your boss:

  • Health. Share health tips to help you be more productive at work, and ask what health steps your boss uses to be effective as a leader.
  • Wealth. Make sure you understand your level of compensation relative to your peers in and outside your industry. Ask your boss to let you know where you fall within the salary range for your role. Inquire how much room you have to grow and what performance metrics will help you to get a raise. This information will help you move higher along the salary range as you continue to advance your career. It’s also important that your boss knows that you understand the salary range for your level or job description.
  • Family. Get to know your boss’s family structure  –  if she/he has kids and what activities they may be into and share yours. Understand what hobbies or interests your boss has outside of work and draw any connection to skills you are both developing on the job.
  • Dreams/Life Goals. Share life goals (vacation or exotic travel, retirement goals or what you would do if you were not working). This is a great way for your boss to get to know you better and align your skills and work environment to push you forward.

Often, you may be tempted to leave your position because you weren’t able to get to know others, and others never got to know you beyond the work.

Guide your interactions with your boss in a way that allows your superior to understand what drives you, what’s important to you, and that you’re an asset to them and to the company. If you can manage your boss, you’ll improve your quality of life at work, and you may even stick around longer at your company  –  advancing in a way that boosts your career trajectory.

How do you show your boss your strengths and the areas you want to develop?