With Your Boss
simple, real-world fact. A
fact most people still do not “get.”
Today, the majority of people lose their jobs not
because they messed up or made some costly mistake at work, but
because they didn’t understand “workplace politics.”
Being politically savvy is what helps you keep your job when
you do make a mistake.
definition of politics is “the difference between what is
right—and what is effective.”
How often in your career have you been right, but everyone
hates you for it? That’s
the gap you need to understand and work.
It’s not about walking on others to get what you need, but it
is about understanding the unspoken messages of your workplace and
tapping into the flow of power to accomplish your agenda.
Think of it as “how to shake the tree and get the resources
One of the
most important political alliances to cultivate is your relationship
with your boss. Start by
asking yourself this question, “Do I actually manage
my relationship with my boss . . . or just try not to make him or her
mad?” Most people do only the latter. Turn
that around and start creating a more positive, effective relationship
with your boss by answering these key questions:
is the method of communication with which my boss is most
Is it face-to-face, e-mail, or voicemail?
Sarah had a boss who responded best to voicemail.
He wasn’t big on face-to-face because it required too
much time. He could
return five voicemails in airports faster than he could type
e-mails on his Blackberry. If
you voicemailed him, you almost always got an answer the same day,
especially when he was busy. And
this strategy also made her look very self-sufficient because
Sarah wasn’t always in his office asking questions.
On the rare occasion when she asked for time on his
calendar, he would move her to the head of the line because he
knew it was important.
what time of day is my boss most receptive to talking?
Your boss may be a morning person, or more open to longer
conversations as the day winds down and the phones stop ringing.
If your boss is talkative and you need a quick answer,
check his calendar or understand his lunch schedule and go see him
15 minutes before he has a meeting or before he typically leaves
for lunch. Is there a
particular day of the week that is better for your boss than
others? One governmental group waits until Wednesdays to ask for
anything important from their manager, because on Tuesdays the
boss meets with the Board of Commissioners and Mondays are spent
my boss needs advice, who does he consult?
For those of you, who have seen the Godfather films, think
of this advisor as your boss’ “Consiglieri.”
Build a good relationship with this person so he or she
says good things about you to your boss.
Remember—this is someone to whom your boss listens and
whose opinion he or she greatly values.
are the last three business books my boss read?
Any book your manager spends valuable time reading, you
should read. I know
one manager who wanted funding in the budget for an additional
person, but knew his boss hated any increase in headcount.
His boss was a great fan of the book Good
to Great. Even
though the manager was not a big reader, he read the book because
his boss valued its insights.
The manager was able to justify his request for the new
position by saying he needed “the right people on the bus in the
right seats” (wording that comes straight from Good
to Great). This
resonated with his boss and he got the approval to hire the new
You also can be politically savvy by giving your boss the gift of a
business book you’ve recently read and agree with.
This allows you to use the author as an expert, to convert your
boss to your way of thinking. Be
sure to inscribe the book on the inside fly leaf and sign your name.
This way, every time your boss opens the book, he or she is
reminded of the gift. And
if your manager lends it to someone, you will appear to be smart,
cutting edge, and someone whose opinion your boss values.
If your boss is not a reader, you can still use this strategy.
Simply select a book that is short but packed with insights, so
your boss will be willing to spend an hour reading it.
And never put the
cost of the book on your expense report.
This is a gift—and an investment in your career.
Surely your career is worth $20 or $25!
Here are three quick “political rules” for successfully dealing with
Rule 1 – Stay neutral about new bosses. When
you get a new boss, you will be barraged by people asking you what you
think of him or her. These
people will repeat what you say throughout the organization, so say
this: “She seems very smart, but I haven’t worked with her for
very long.” This is both
noncommittal and positive.
Rule 2 – When your boss says something nice about you, do not
deflect the compliment with modesty or with humor by cracking the joke
about “maybe this is a good time to ask for a raise.”
This devalues the compliment and creates an awkward situation
for everyone present, even if they know you are kidding.
Here’s the perfect reply: “Thank you so much.
That means a great deal to me coming from you.”
You now have tripled the chances your manager will say more
nice things about you in the future.
Rule 3 - Last, but not least,
speak badly about your boss in the workplace—even if everyone else
calls him “the spawn of Satan.”
By not saying anything bad, you send a clear, unspoken message
throughout your organization that you are patient, resilient, and
loyal. All of which are
great qualities to have. You
enhance your value and reputation—simply by shutting up.
Read other articles and learn more
about Margaret Morford.
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