Wednesday, May 9, 2007

More on managing your boss...

Lobbying your opinion upwards to your superiors is something that is worth doing, but only if you think you can do it well.

Here are a few things to note what you're trying to promote your opinions to your boss:

* find a common terminology -- be confident that your boss indeed understands what you think s/he understands. Gently try to say the same thing in more than one way, or from more than one perspective. This will help make your point clear.
* try to think like your boss -- you need to be able to explain why doing things your way actually makes your boss look better and helps your boss achieve his/her goals better than the alternative way(s).
* be flexible to change priorities dynamically as a response to signals that you receive from you boss: think like an investor: if you were investing money in this project, how would you see your money being well spent -- what actions would you expect be taken?
* think globally and do your best to see a bigger picture -- you might want to consider other perspectives to your opinion by trying to take another point of view, for example, what gives more value to clients, what can give a larger impact financially vs. minimum usage of resources (such as time, money, expertise...). Once you consider your issue from other perspectives and weight how they might look with your boss's glasses, you might either find more good reasons for your agenda or realize that your agenda has low probability to be accepted, and why.
* Quality makes a good argument -- if you can clearly and wisely argue that your agenda increases quality, it will give you extra credit. At the same time, though, you should always think how your suggestions to your boss can be validated after the act and that the criteria for success is clear and the means to measure the success is also clear. What I mean here is that you should not only strive to make good suggestions and be convincing -- for your credibility's sake, you also need to make sure that both you and your boss understand the criteria for success of your suggestion, that you both understand how this criteria should be measured and that you both understand the "hidden" cost of this validity of success. So -- quality has more than one side here: one is promoting your idea by reasoning how it contributes to quality, and the other is that you can articulate the means of demonstrating the quality of your work once its done.
* If you feel that there is resistance to your ideas, try to think why, try to understand the motivation for resisting your idea -- you might then find out that you can find reasons how what seems to be a limitation is actually a plus, or that the benefits outweight the disadvantages. As soon as you can fairly reason to yourself that you have good points to remove the resistance, you might want to think how you lobby it to your boss without marking yourself as someone who likes to argue for the same of argument and as someone who does not know how to take a no. Letting your boss think that it was his/her idea at the first place will many times prove useful -- it can remove a great deal of subjective resistance that mostly stemmes from personal ego...

You can read about some of these ideas and other ideas in a nice article "The Language of Success".

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