How to Improve Communication with Your Boss
Building stronger communication with authority figures makes many people nervous. Your boss holds the power over your performance reviews, salary reviews, and future work assignments. Don’t be intimidated by all that authority. Instead, learn how to improve communication with your boss.
Communication with your boss or any of your business communications can be improved. You just need to understand your boss and what they expect from you when you do communicate.
1. Keep Your Boss Informed
Your boss doesn’t like surprises. If something bad occurs, its better they find out from you now than from someone else later. If you want a better boss, and better communication with your boss, then keep your boos informed so there are no surprises.
2. Meet with Your Boss Frequently
It’s important to keep your boss updated on your progress, good and bad news, and what you might need help with in the future. If you are struggling with an assignment or have finished early, let the boss know (see point 1). It is important to meet with your boss regularly to maximize department communication.
3. Get Your Facts Straight
Opinions are not what the boss needs. Management has a lot of their own opinions and if they want yours they will ask for them. What management needs is unarguable objective evidence, data, and clear business metrics. Subjective information will only weaken your argument and weaken communication with your boss. Always be prepared with the facts.
4. Be Prepared
Think about what questions your boss may ask you and make sure you have researched the answers. Not having the answers available when you are talking to your boss is wasting their time (see point 5). Be prepared with facts (see point 3 above).
5. Don’t Waste the Boss’s Time
Communicate succinctly. Keep your task updates short and to the point. Explain the “bottom line”. If you need something, be specific. Saying “I need help” is undefined. Instead say “I need [specific person’s name] help for 4 hours on this project.” The boss likes to make informed decisions and quick calculations of the return on investment (ROI). Increasing communication with your boss will increase your productivity and your boss’s productivity, so don’t waste the anybody’s time, especially your time with your boss.
6. Don’t Oversell Your Boss
Once the boss has said yes, stop talking and say thank you. If you keep explaining the reasons why, your boss may discover that your reasoning is faulty and take back the resource they just gave you. After all, you got what you wanted so leave happy by not overselling.
7. Focus on Solutions
We all have problems and your boss has even bigger problems. You do not want to add to their problems, do you? Instead, offer your solution to solve management problems. Support your solution with the facts and how your solution to solve the problem will work with the resource you are requesting. Solve problems by focusing on a solution.
You may not understand it, but your boss has a lot of different pressures to work under. Your proposal may be the best solution given the information you have, but the boss has additional information or political battles to fight that do not have to be explained to you right now. If you understand this during communication with your boss, it will help you see it from their perspective. Getting upset with your boss will not improve communication with your boss.
9. Obtain Regular Feedback from Your Boss
Receiving feedback from your boss in not criticism. You may not like the feedback your are receiving, but if you step back a bit you may be able to see that there is some truth somewhere in the feedback you think is criticism. Use the feedback to devise solutions as opposed to offering excuses. Even if you perceive that you are right, your current communication methods are not working. You have to use alternative communication methods and take corrective action. Remember, feedback is not good or bad it is just feedback, so look for more feedback and use it to improve your performance.
The chain of command exist for a reason. Even if you think you may have to cope with a bad boss, you have to be very careful when going to your boss’ boss. Instead, choose the right time to make it work, observe the other nine communications points listed above, and be prepared for unintended consequences. If you feel you must go over their head, then make sure you inform your boss of what you are doing (see point 1 above).
Communicating with Your Boss
Communicating with authority figures can be a lot easier if you plan ahead and consider it from their point of view. Effective communication with your boss can be very beneficial for you and your boss. Do you know anyone that has a boss? Then pass this article along to them so they can benefit too.
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