James Hempsall shares tips on catching up with the boss…
We all have to attend meetings. Some people even enjoy them. They are all tricky in their own ways – each one is different – but one of the trickiest is a meeting with your boss. Nevertheless, these meetings should be grasped with both hands, not avoided (even though the temptation might be huge), because the potential benefits are much bigger. So, if you are someone often tempted to avoid them, here are some tips.
Make meetings routine. Don’t save them for when disaster strikes, you are angry or complaining, or you need something. Do that, and you will be perceived as the person with problems and demands. By regularly meeting, you can build a better relationship – you won’t get too stressed about them, and you will be thought of in more balanced ways.
Busy bosses need managing as much as staff teams do. They need you to put meetings in the diary. Be clever though; don’t block out too much time. Think carefully about how much time you need – half an hour, an hour, an hour and a half? Don’t get trapped into the mindset that every meeting should last for two hours.
It’s a two-way thing. Yes, your boss has a role in motivating you and identifying solutions, but take some responsibility for that yourself. We all prefer to work with competent and positive people, so make sure your boss views you as one too. Ask for their feedback, as long as you are ready to cope with it.
Make sure there is an agenda, or at least a list, or a clear understanding on both sides of the aim and purpose of the meeting, and items that need discussing. No one likes surprises, and many perform better if they have a little thinking time ahead of any discussion. It doesn’t matter whose role it is to develop the agenda; what’s important is that you both have an input.
If you need help, are feeling overwhelmed or just can’t make a decision, tell your boss and ask. Don’t hide important details they should know, because these are likely to be discovered at some point. Don’t be afraid to ask for anything. Be prepared for your boss to say no, and do not let that get in the way of you being assertive and ambitious for you and your work. Help your boss to learn about you and understand what makes you tick.
Put a little time into your meeting. Have a clear summary about what you are working on – including the highs and the lows. Be one of the first to tell them about your achievements, and ensure you are the first to tell them about what went wrong – before someone else does. It also helps to have an outline of what is coming up as well – so you can both plan. If you are bringing a problem to the meeting, have some options for solutions prepared to support your discussions.
Do this and you will be a happier colleague and will achieve much more at work for you, and for them.