In this blog, we usually talk about your leadership and how you’re working down the chain of command with your direct reports and their teams. Let’s switch that up a bit and talk about managing up the chain – with your boss. Summertime generally brings the mid-year development “check-in” meeting, where you meet with the boss to get his or her feedback on a) how you’re doing relative to your objectives and results, and b) how you’re progressing on your developmental goals. Take advantage of this opportunity and walk in with a plan to put your boss to work for you. Here are a few suggestions:
1) Identify a handful of leaders high in the organization that you want to build relationships with, and ask your boss to help set up those meetings. In other words, put them to work in helping you to build your vertical network.
2) Ask your boss for more responsibility as you discuss your results and goals (only if you’ve earned it, of course). Be proactive about where and how you can add more value – and then ask for the reins. Don’t shy away from additional assignments, seek them out.
3) Push your boss to give you constructive development feedback that you can actually use. Many bosses aren’t good at this, so keep probing – a great question is “what do your peers think or say about my work?” Don’t accept the tired old phrase: “you’re doing a great job – I can’t think of anything for you to work on”. Don’t let them off the hook – it’s their job to help you grow and develop.
4) Speaking of which, ask for something unique in the way of a development offering. Ask to attend a conference or an external training seminar. Ask for a subscription to a particular trade magazine, or an online subscription to a site rich with leadership content. Get the boss to put their $ where their development advice is…
5) Finally, ask for more insight or visibility. Ask to be let in on certain meetings, memos, offsites, etc. – push to be included in more critical conversations around the company. Volunteer to attend task force meetings in their place, etc. – in short, ask for more exposure.The mid-year development check-in meeting is often times a one-way conversation… the boss talks, and you listen and take notes. Turn that on its ear this year, and take a proactive approach into the meeting. Bring your list of requests and feedback – put your development demands on the table for discussion. I know you’ll do it in a professional, mature manner – the key is to be clear about your expectations and desires, and to ask for help in achieving your goals. If your requests are well-grounded and reasonable, you’ll likely walk away from the meeting feeling pretty good about the rest of the year. Put your boss to work for you and your career – who knows, you might just get everything you ask for!