Bosses might like sports, and they might not. They may or may not like water-skiing or Mexican food or romantic comedies. People vary.
But there’s one thing I can pretty much guarantee your boss does not like—surprises.
I don’t mean you shouldn’t throw a surprise party or bring flowers. I’m talking about the kind of surprise that requires sudden defensive action from the boss—the kind that doesn’t give enough time for the planning and strategizing that bosses are paid to do. THAT kind of surprise is the kind they absolutely hate.
That’s one of many reasons you should over-communicate with your boss whenever possible. At the beginning of a project or initiative, get clear directions about the results and processes he or she expects.
Then as you work, report frequently on where you are in the process, what your struggles are, and what you’re doing to overcome them.
Never leave out the bad news, your struggles and roadblocks. A manager who only hears happy-happy-joy-joy will quickly turn suspicious. A boss I had in my twenties used to say, “Tell me the good news, tell me the bad news…but don’t EVER surprise me.” I didn’t—and as a result, he never micromanaged my work.
Daily and weekly reporting about where you are compared to your work plan will earn trust, and everybody will be happy.
The key driver in your business is the boss.
Too many employees think of the boss as a problem—a nuisance looking over your shoulder, or a target for grumbling complaints. If that describes your workplace, it’s time to rethink that.
Think of your business like a website. Have you ever been on a site that’s gorgeous and flashy, but once you try to actually use it, everything is confusing and broken? That’s just what you have when your business fails to support the drivers that make the visible things actually happen.
Your boss needs your support. Of course he isn’t perfect. Of course he is overly demanding. Of course he can be downright annoying and change his mind and sometimes even be a bit under appreciative. He breathes! People aren’t perfect.
When you condemn your boss and complain about him to others, YOU are the problem. We’ve already established your boss breaths and isn’t perfect. You aren’t there to point that out. You are there to support him and your team. Go back and look at the job posting from when you took the job. Chances are it didn’t say anything about complaining about your boss and pointing out what is wrong with your boss to others. In fact, doing that behavior is as mean spirited of a behavior as you can have.
So forgive yourself everything from the past if you’ve done that. But now is the time to be the loving, kind, joyful person your dog thinks you are. Now is the time to bring your higher self to work to join the team instead of complaining about the team.
I promise you will start to love your job even more as soon as you take it on in this way—it’s transformative.
Some companies that have been especially generous with their employees in the past are running into a sad irony: when they cut back to more normal levels in challenging times, they sometimes get a backlash from employees.
Once you’re used to the Rolls Royce, even a nice Corvette can feel like slumming.
I recently heard about one company that reduced the lavish spreads of hors d’oeuvres it offered at promotion celebrations to finger sandwiches—and many of the workers went ballistic. They had come to see abundance as an entitlement instead of a generous privilege.
This is where the employees who recognize the generosity of the employer should speak up. Point out that many companies offer much less for such events, or even nothing at all, and that a small reduction can save funds for the very promotions your company is celebrating!
A gentle nudge from a colleague can help others recognize generosity when they see it. And it’s a great kindness for a good boss.
Author Sam Parker knows the power of kindness for business. A company in which employees take action to make things better for each other and for their customers is a company that works. It’s a company that ends up with a healthy and productive culture. And that means profit.
He calls it the Smile & Move principle.
It’s about going above and beyond to find ways to make a bigger difference for teammates, bosses, and customers, to practice random acts of kindness.
As a bonus, nothing boosts your own self-esteem as much as doing kind things for other people.
Our day is full of choices. Every time something doesn’t go right, you have a kind way and an unkind way to handle it. Your character is revealed by how you make those choices, time after time. Choose kindness. It costs you nothing, and in fact, those around you are more likely to reciprocate when you make the kind choice.
Dan Sullivan, a consultant to entrepreneurs and financial analysts, once said that the purpose of employees is to build the confidence of the business owner.
When I first heard that, I thought it was one of the most arrogant things I’d ever heard! It took me about five to ten years to really figure out what he meant, and then I got it.
It’s about the way in which a successful business relies on a pyramid of trust.
If you’re an entrepreneur, you know that you can’t be generative and come up with ideas and feel confident selling if you can’t count on your people to deliver and to live their word. Without that, the whole business suffers.
But I think it goes beyond the entrepreneur – it also applies to managers. The manager can’t feel confident and feel like he or she can go to customers and move things along unless they know that the employees are going to do what they say they will do.
So building the confidence of your boss essentially means that you are completely transparent about what you have done, about anything that might be undone, and clear about how you are going to get the plan accomplished. There should be absolutely no surprises. Hit your numbers, hit your deadlines, and let him or her know any time something might be out of alignment.