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Managing Your Boss

Ten Helpful Things to Say to Your Boss

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1. “Did you hear about . . .?”
Bosses need information and value people who share it. Because managers make many decisions and deal with lots of people, they need to stay up-to-date with both business developments and changes in the political climate.

2. “Here’s something I really appreciate about you.”
Managers get lots of complaints, but very few compliments. Unless you work for Attila the Hun, your boss probably has some positive qualities, so express sincere appreciation from time to time. The key word is “sincere” – being appreciative is not the same as sucking up.

3. “What are your most important goals this year?”
Although people are usually clear about their own work goals, they often don’t know much about their manager’s objectives. If you know what your boss is working towards, then you can spot opportunities to be helpful.

4. “I’d like to talk about priorities.”
A boss is someone who can help you prioritize. When you’re swamped with work, consider getting your manager's view of the highest priority tasks. Even if you’re not stressed out, it’s still good to know what’s important to your boss.

5. “I’ve got an idea!”
Most managers like to hear new ideas and approaches. Unless your boss is completely wedded to the same old way of doing things, share your thoughts about how to improve operations, customer service, or the work environment.

6. “How am I doing? What could I improve?”
Many bosses practice “psychic management” – that is, they have opinions about employee performance, but fail to share those thoughts. Initiating an occasional feedback discussion will let you know what your manager is thinking.

7. We might have a potential problem.”
Because they’re closer to the work, employees often spot impending trouble before managers do. Giving your boss a heads up about potential pitfalls and problems will make you a highly valued employee.

8. “I’d like your opinion.”
Even if you don’t really need your manager’s opinion, you might consider asking for it. Many bosses like to share their ideas and perspectives and enjoy brainstorming discussions.

9. "I’ve got some bad news.”
Never, never withhold negative news from your boss. If you try to suppress it, you’ll only be in bigger trouble when it finally comes out. Always try to present some possible solutions along with the problem.

10. “Want to go to lunch?”
Having lunch with your manager gives you a chance to talk about something beside work and get to know each other a little better. It’s a well-known fact that sharing a meal tends to promote positive feelings.

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