March 18, 2022

“Your boss simply expects you to keep your head down and work hard.”

If you’ve heard that before, let me tell you, it’s not that simple. Yes, your boss expects you to work hard and achieve the set targets but there’s a lot more. Your boss expects your work to be of the best quality and error free so the results you achieve benefit the organisation. Moreover, your boss expects loyalty towards the organisation and towards your team. They need to know that you can take one for the team.

But you know, above all, there are 5 conversations that a great boss expects of you because they know these conversations will help you grow, which, in the long run, will help the organisation grow.

The first of these five conversations is the conversation about situational diagnosis where you discuss the specifics of the issue at hand. Discuss the nature of the problem and what causes this issue. Confer with your boss about the symptoms of the issue so you are both on the same page when it comes to understanding the problem. You have to agree upon what the problems and opportunities are. The idea behind this conversation is to bridge the gap between your perception of the issue and how your boss perceives it.

Now, this gap can only be bridged when either you move towards your boss’ perception or they move towards yours. It is imperative that you and your boss agree upon the complexity of the issue. If you agree upon the problem and its complexity the chances of you agreeing on the solution are much higher. You will obviously have to remain open to compromise and be willing to tweak the solution as per the reality of the situation but the closer you and your boss are to viewing the problem, the less compromise will be necessary.

The second conversation must be that of expectations. The expectations conversation is extremely critical because it defines what your boss considers to be a favourable outcome to the problem at hand. It is important that both your views are in alignment about what the solution should be. You must put the solution under a microscope because the clearer you are about the solution the more milestones you will have along the way. These milestones will make it easier for you to report the progress. This conversation makes things real and gives you clarity about the actions you need to take every day to achieve the desired results. There will be times when you feel like the expected outcome is unrealistic and when that happens, you need to have the conversation about the resources you will need to complete the said task. And that brings me to the third type of conversation you need to have with your boss.

The third type of conversation is the resources conversation. This is where you need to discuss the resources you will need to make the expected outcome a reality. By resources you could be referring to the amount of time you need to produce the results or the human resources you will need. You need to decide what you will need to accomplish the task and achieve the desired outcome. You may require a team of 5 people but in reality you only get 2 or 3. The resources conversation is where you can set the expectations straight and redefine the timelines as per the given resources. Resources can also be in terms of the money you will require to complete the task. For example, the goal is to develop a new software. Now, you might need to hire new people or outsource a part of the project. For both of these things, you will require funds. So make sure you list all the resources you will need – monetary, time-wise and the man power.

The fourth conversation you are to have is the one about style. This conversation is all about the manner in which you are expected to deliver the expected outcome. Are you expected to report the progress daily, every other day or weekly? Are you expected to report the progress over a phone call or do you need to share a written progress report? Do you have to be physically present in the office while you’re working on the project or is it okay for you to be in the field, tackling the challenges head on? The point of the style conversation is to make sure that you and your boss are on the same page about the manner in which the task is to be completed. It is important that you and your boss get along so you can be guided in how the journey is to be taken and achieve the desired results in the simplest possible way in the shortest amount of time.

The fifth and final conversation you must have with your boss is about your personal development. The ideal time for this conversation is when you’re making a headway with the task at hand and have something to show for the progress you’ve made. Have this conversation when the finish line for your task is near. The conversation about personal development is important because it will set you up for your next project. It could be a more challenging task that requires you to develop a certain skill set or an unpublished job opportunity that is perfect for you. Your next project must be at least a little more challenging than the one you’re currently working on so you are constantly growing. As with the other conversations, your boss’ and your own assessment must be aligned about what your next role should be and how you will be rewarded for the role you have been playing. That is why the time for this conversation is when your boss sees that your current project is on track and quantifiable progress has been made.

Negotiating for your success is your responsibility and these 5 conversations – Situational Diagnosis, Expectations, Resources, Style and Personal Development will help you do just that.

You must remember that your boss can either be your biggest supporter or the biggest roadblock in your path to success and you have to culture your boss just as you would culture your team. You manage your team so they can achieve success. You have to do the same for your boss; manage upwards and ensure that your boss remains on your side.

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