3 Steps To Get Through To Your Boss. Right Now!

Getting through the day is all about getting along with your boss. And more than that, it’s about being able to get through to your boss. Some people are good at that from day one. I’m not one of those people. It’s taken me years to figure out how to get through to my bosses. But once I figured it out, life got a little better. Seriously.

If you’ve been having trouble getting through to your boss, read this and let me know what you think. More importantly, TRY IT! Three simple steps (and one bonus). Just try them and let me know how it goes.

If you’re wondering why you should give a crap about getting through to your boss it’s because your boss holds your career in their hands every day. Some bosses are cool, and they’ll work with you and listen to you and all that crap without you even trying. They’re awesome, and you will always miss working for them later when you don’t.

Unfortunately those great bosses, well meaning as they may be, are setting you up for failure. I mean it, it’s true! Don’t get me wrong… I’ll take one of those bosses any time and be grateful. But at some point in your career, if not already, you are going to get a boss who isn’t about making life wonderful, and who doesn’t care that you are shy, or that you are intimidated by him, or that you just don’t know how to reach them in their ivory tower.

The result is that you end up frustrated and pissed off and NOT getting what you want out of your interactions with your bosses.

I can help with that! The solution is more simple than you think. It’s not a secret, it’s not some wisdom of the ancients that nobody knows about. It’s simple, but it’s a change in habit if you don’t already have it figured. In fact, there may be people in your Cubicle Farm doing it this way right now. Maybe you’ve noticed them because they seem to get along with the boss so much easier, and maybe it bugs the crap out of you. Well then… do something about it!

Here we go. I’m going to go over the three steps, and then I’m going to throw in a bonus at the end. The three steps are simple, but it takes effort to get used to taking these steps. But trust me, once you get them down, and you make using them a habit, you are going to reap the benefits for years to come, in any position you hold.

Number 1: Organize Your Thoughts!

Pretty much all day, bosses have people coming at them with problems or complaints of some sort. It sucks. No, it’s not an excuse for them being a PITA Spice, but it’s a fact of life just the same. These complaints are coming from every direction… from their subordinates, from the boss’ boss, and even from their fellow bosses.

For many bosses, this near constant barrage of complaints puts them in a foul mood. The fact that many of these people coming at them with issues don’t even bother to pause and organize their thoughts only makes it worse. They get overloaded. Their brains have trouble processing all the B.S. and they start to shut down.

An example of disorganized thoughts:

“Hi Boss. We’re not going to make our sales plan this month. Something’s wrong with Line 2. John keeps doing everything wrong. Engineering can’t get it together, it’s like they just don’t care.”

What does that mean? What’s the boss supposed to do with that?

Again, it doesn’t help that many of their fellow bosses and even their own bosses are guilty of dumping their crappy issues on them without taking time to organize their thoughts. So your boss is spending a lot of energy trying to process this stream of gobble-dee-gook and it gives them a headache.

No matter what you think of your boss, you cannot deny that if you make your boss’ day easier, they’re going to notice. They are NOT going to give you a medal. They are not going to give you a raise either, right away. But they WILL notice, and it will make a difference over time. In the short run, if nothing else, finally being heard by your boss is going to make your day easier.

But wait, Wayne… what the hell does it mean… Organize your thoughts???

Let’s look at the sample above. If you come at your boss with that, they’ll need to have a 20 minute Q&A session with you to get to the point and the base issue. You can save them a lot of time by getting the facts and organizing your thoughts more like this:

“Hi Boss. John had an accident with the forklift. The frabulator on Line 2 was hit and damaged. Engineering says it will take 2 weeks to get the repair parts and install them. We’ll not be able to ship in the meantime, and the sales plan will take a $25,000 hit.”

That is MUCH more organized than the example above. And by organizing your thoughts up front before talking to your boss, you’ve just saved them 20 minutes of back and forth quizzing. Be specific, be sequential, be organized.

Number 2: Remove All Personal Opinion, Bias & Drama… Ruthlessly!

Opinion:  A view or judgment formed about something, not necessarily based on fact or knowledge. (Oxford Dictionary)

Bias:   Prejudice in favor of or against one thing, person, or group compared with another, usually in a way considered to be unfair. (Oxford Dictionary)

Drama:   A way of relating to the world in which a person consistently overreacts to or greatly exaggerates the importance of events. (Urban Dictionary)

*I specify Personal Opinion because that’s very different from your Professional Opinion which, as a professional, you should always be prepared to provide.

This can be the most difficult of these simple steps. It’s way too easy to get into blaming people or letting our frustrations color our references to them. We are supposed to be professionals, working in the Cubicle Farm, getting the job done no matter what.

But when the same people create roadblocks or issues in our days over and over, well it’s human nature to feel negatively toward them. I’ve known plenty of people who come to hate the folks they work with. It’s not pretty. But it’s human nature. I’ve been there myself. These days, I work hard to keep those feelings out of my heart.

Meanwhile… here’s an example full of personal opinion, bias, and DRAMA!

“Hi Boss. John is worthless. He can’t get his act together to save his life, and he doesn’t deserve to work here! Oh, and by the way, he totally wrecked the production line and now we won’t make any money this month!”

All the non-essential dog poo in that example is what drives your boss crazy. (It would drive me crazy too, I’ll be honest with you!). So that’s not the way to go. It does no good, and only shows your boss that you are just like all the other people who are not helping them get through the day with their sanity. You are making them crazy! While that might sound like fun, it doesn’t help you become a Cubicle Farm Survivor!

Compare that drama laden paragraph to the cleaned up example from above:

“Hi Boss. John had an accident with the forklift. The frabulator on Line 2 was hit and damaged. Engineering says it will take 2 weeks to get the repair parts and install them. We’ll not be able to ship in the meantime, and the sales plan will take a $25,000 hit.”

There is no personal opinion in there, no bias, and NO DRAMA. It’s simple, organized, and without all the poo. It works!

Number 3: Always, Always, ALWAYS Include Solutions!

Now to wrap it all up in a nice little bow. Solutions. You don’t have to have the perfect idea. And your proposal doesn’t have to cover the entire solution, and it certainly doesn’t have to cover areas you have no expertise in. But you can always come up with a solution, or an idea of what the solution might be.

If you’re reading this and thinking “that’s bullshit Wayne. How am I supposed to come up with solutions for the screw-ups of other people?”, I want you to STOP right now! Calm your mind, and let yourself play with this concept for a few minutes… “I can come up with solutions, I have ideas about what might be done to solve this problem.”

And here’s another way to look at it. Sometimes, the solution you provide might be as simple as offering to setup a meeting with the right people to come up with the actual solution. In this case, doing it right would mean offering up a proposed list of the people you think should attend the meeting.

Think outside of your cubicle. Just relax and let yourself think it through. And hey, you probably have friends in cells nearby that could help you talk this through. Take a walk and talk it over with them and see how they bounce it back at you.

And remember, remember, REMEMBER… you are not trying to come up with the most perfect solution that could possibly exist. You are simply showing your boss that you have thought this through and are trying to help figure it out.

Here’s our sample opening paragraph from above:

“Hi Boss. John had an accident with the forklift. The frabulator on Line 2 was hit and damaged. Engineering says it will take 2 weeks to get the repair parts and install them. We’ll not be able to ship in the meantime, and the sales plan will take a $25,000 hit.”

Now, to take this the additional step, depending on your actual position, you might offer any of these sample solutions:

“I’ve asked Marcus to check with our secondary service vendor to see if they can find the parts locally, perhaps even used or reconditioned, so we can get them installed quicker and make our month-end deadlines.”

“I think Line 3 is down right now, but we might be able to get it back in service more quickly and shift production over from Line 2. Then we’d reduce the sales plan hit to maybe only $10,000 this month.”

 “According to the Health & Safety department, we can implement new traffic lanes and bumpers for the forklifts to keep them from hitting production equipment. Also, I think Rick, Marcus, Wendy, and Kim could probably come up with a way to save the sales plan. When would you be available to meet with them? I can set up the meeting.”

There are probably a dozen possible solutions that you could come up with. And remember, you only have to come up with one. Even if it’s not the one they prefer, and even if you spend 10 minutes coming up with a ‘next steps plan’, your boss will start to see you in a different light when you approach them like this!

And what about that bonus? Again, it’s a simple thing… Bosses are busy! It can be very difficult to get quality time with them sometimes. If your boss is the type that you can walk in anytime and he’s ready to give you his undivided attention, that’s great. It doesn’t happen all the time.

I’ve had bosses that act like they are always available. But it turns out that while they are sitting there, their minds are on ten different topics. Then, just when I’m getting into the meat of the matter, they reveal they’ve got a meeting in 7 minutes and they have to prepare for it. Then you know they haven’t heard a thing you’ve said.

So what now? The Bonus! It’s about timing…

Bonus: Pay Attention To Timing!

 

If you’ve got one of the bosses that always seem way to busy to pay attention, try this little secret: Send them a meeting invite. Yup, it’s that simple. Send them an invitation to a meeting with you alone.

It doesn’t have to be long. It can be a ten minute meeting. It can be in their office. Be up front and honest about it. And don’t send them disorganized thoughts and drama without solutions. Just explain in the invitation that you need to discuss [Production line damage and possible revenue disruption] with them, and could you meet on [Tuesday] at [9:30am], for example.

One of two things will happen. Either they will accept your invite, meet with you, and respect the way you handled the situation (with organized thoughts, lacking bias & drama, and accompanied by a tentative solution), or they will get in touch to say they don’t want to wait for the meeting, and ask you to come discuss it right then.

That’s okay too! Because you’ve already organized your thoughts, you’ve already stripped out any personal opinion and bias and drama, and you’ve already developed at least one proposed solution (even if it’s just to organize a meeting). So you’re totally prepared to walk in there at the drop of a hat and discuss the issue with him.

Well done!

Now, I totally understand if this takes a few weeks to implement. So take a few weeks. But don’t let this time you’ve spent reading this go to waste. Take action. Make changes. DO IT! I promise if you give this a fair chance, you will be amazed and delighted with how well it works.

The extra time you put in up front saves you time debating it with your boss, and it saves your boss time, as they don’t have to quiz you for half an hour to get the fine points. And it makes you look GOOD!

Now, do me a favor. Let me know what you think of this article. Good, bad, indifferent. I want to hear it. Just scroll down a little further and leave me a comment. I read them all!

Thanks for coming by and reading this. Thanks for telling your friends, sharing on Facebook, and all that cool stuff!

Have an awesome week ahead! Remember, you’re not just some Corporate Drone… you’re a Cubicle Farm Survivor!!!

-Wayne

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