One skill that is essential for upwardly mobile executives is their ability to manager the boss. I know you are pretty good at managing your team members but what about managing your boss? Many are not strong when it comes to this area. They are either too meek and obliging ( never saying “No” even when circumstances warrant it) or they are mentally not prepared to visualize such a relationship in which they have to manage the boss. After all, they argue, he/she is the boss and how can I think of managing them?
Just as we need to be good at managing our teams, we need to be good at managing our boss too. Most bosses tend to get irritated if they have to repeat their views many times or if you appear incapable of grasping the main points very quickly.
Listening is an excellent skill to develop to cement the relationship with your boss. Listening is without doubt the most under rated skill amongst the many managerial skills. All of us claim we are good at listening but most of is are poor listeners.
These points are important in developing the skill of listening to the boss:
- Appreciate the importance of listening. Time is at a premium and the last thing the busy boss wants is to waste time in repeating herself many times over. Listening helps you get the true intent of the message just right, first time and every time.
- Be attentive: You must show that you are really listening. A lot of this is built around your body language. Maintaining eye contact, nodding and leaning forward are common signs of active listening.
- Understand: listen beyond the more obvious meanings for feelings. Emphasis on one point or lack of priority for another are expressed not only in words but through nuances of feelings, non-verbals and emotions.
- React: Show your understanding. Summarize key points. Ask questions if you have not understood. These indicate that you are “connected’. Asking questions long after the interaction indicate a lack of attention and focus.
- Don’t talk: Whatever people may tell you, you simply cannot talk and listen at the same time. Good listening means not talking. Pick up as much as you can and talk periodically to signify understanding and /or seek clarification.
- Use empathy: The perspective of the boss is different from yours. Try to see things from her point of view. If you do not understand the significance of a plan, ask for clarification. All too often, inadequate information or perspective gives us a wrong picture of priorities.
- Make notes: Jot down key points so they remain fresh in your memory. Noting points not only indicates interest but also helps you summarize key points at the end of the conversation with your boss.
Listen and listen well. It can be a big step in improving your effectiveness in managing your boss.
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