Monday, December 14, 2009

First Time - Part 10: Going to See the Boss

You will need to go see the boss, we all do. ('Boss' is used here to mean the next person up the chain of command, the one your report to – and might be anyone from a lieutenant to a 4-star, from the shop manager to the CEO, from the pastor to the Pope).  But there are two ways to distinguish yourself when you go to see the boss – one bad, one good. You can either be the guy with the problems who asks the boss for the answer, or you can be the guy with solutions. Be the second guy.

This is really a straightforward issue, and ties directly to the issue of decision-making. Before you go to see the boss with an issue, do two things.

One: try something. Going to the boss before you have tried something is to say 'I really don't know how to be in charge,' and may suggest to the Boss that you are 'wrong' for the job. So, before you go to see the Boss, try something.

Three things can happen: 1) Whatever you do works. Problem solved, and you don't need to see the boss. 2) You do something, but nothing happens. If so, try something else. 3) You try something and it clearly doesn't solve the issue. Only in this case do you go to see the boss.

But not yet. Before you go to see the boss, the second thing you need to do is make sure you understand the problem so you can brief him on it. And, have arecommendation, one that necessarily and clearly exceeds your authority. (If it didn't exceed your authority you wouldn't need him to do something, you could and would just do it yourself.)

Now, you have told the boss that you are not afraid to act and lead, that you understand both your role in the organization and the boss's, and you have provided him the necessary information and some options so that he can tackle the problem quickly rather than having to start from 'zero.'


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