One of the most underrated skills is making decisions easy for busy people. You will rise fast in your career if busy people like working with you. Understand that leaders have a lot on their plate and juggling a lot of priorities.
Having a healthy, positive relationship with your boss makes your work life significantly easier — it’s also good for your job satisfaction and your career. But some managers don’t make it easy.
The intersection of your success and your manager’s success is where magic happens, and where your opportunities for fulfilling impact lie. – Julie Zhou
Here are some tested tips and playbooks that will help you learn this skill. You will become indispensable to your boss if you apply in your life.
Show your work with what matters most
Understand how your manager works and thinks and align your ask with that. it’s not about discerning what your manager wants, but how he/she best responds to your evidence.
- Make an effort to understand what is important to your manager and why. Consider this effort an investment, not a burden. This will help you provide a steady drumbeat of the things he/she cares about. It could be metrics, milestones, progress reports, demos, quality checks, testimonials from your cross-functional partners, and so on.
In short, identify the suitable mechanisms and tap into them. Getting that right will ease every other aspect of your job
Keep the bigger picture in mind
When you’re working for someone, you think of your project as their most important project. In reality, being a leader is about competing priorities across teams. This is essential to understand your manager’s most urgent priorities, and then adjust yours accordingly.
If you are at the top of their attention, over-communicate. If you’re not doing the most pressing thing right now, you have to learn to drop back and do great work. That way, when you do become the top of the attention, it’s for the right reasons — and not because everything is on fire.
Be crisp and precise
- Do not start by giving a long background, unless specifically asked. You will lose their attention immediately.
- If you have a problem to solve, come prepared with a suggested next step.
- If you have a question, phrase it in a way they can answer yes/no.
- If there are multiple options, lay them out and ask them to pick one with precise pros and cons with clear recommendation.
- Avoid expansive, open-ended questions.
Focus on what’s keeping your manager up at night
Often people are so focused on their own problems, they don’t think about how their proposed solutions could create more problems one level up the chain. Ask yourself what are your managers’ problems and how can you solve them.
- Anticipate the manager's needs and identify things you can take off his plate. That way, he can do more of what he values
Proposals that solve your problems and your manager’s problem are gold.
Communicate often to avoid surprises
This is something I see in a lot of juniors struggle with. They think they’re bugging others with constant, timely communication, and get down a rabbit hole with no solution available. You should communicate proactively if there is something worthy to share.
it's a far better position to be in than the leadership asking you directly when something isn’t right, which almost always happens when they’re removed from the inner workings of your work. Nobody is perfect — deadlines slip and the unexpected occurs. But the more data points they have, the better.
Let me know your thoughts. I will incorporate comments and feedback in part 2.