Even More Questions To Ask Your Boss

The most important component of management is the ability to communicate.

But communication goes both ways. A manager can’t inherently know what an employee wants. Good managers ask – and good employees proactively manage up by asking what their boss wants.

In April 2008, we wrote about great questions to ask your boss, and it remains the most visited article in the history of this blog.

Here are some more questions, courtesy of Caroline Ceniza-Levine via CareerBuilder.com:

  1. How will we gauge my success in three, six or 12 months?
  2. How do you prefer to communicate and how often?
  3. What does my career path look like at this company?
  4. What areas do I need to develop to advance my career?
  5. What’s our top priority?
  6. Let me see if I understand this correctly … am I missing anything?
  7. What are my strengths?
  8. What can I do to help you?
  9. I’m working on X, Y and Z — do you think I can handle this task?

The Elephant in the Room

It’s a pleasure to recommend a timely book from my partner, Tony Rose.

The “Elephant in the Room” is that thing – or things – which keep you up at night, which you try so hard to avoid confronting. It could be the current economic situation; a poorly performing but well-liked employee; or something in your personal life.

Tony’s book, “Say Hello to the Elephants” looks to embrace that elephant; to tackle the big issue in a positive and efficient way.

He has a 4-step process for dealing with the elephants:

  1. Discover and get clarity on the situation;
  2. Consider and select a solution;
  3. Implement the solution; and
  4. Manage and sustain the result.

I’ve worked with Tony for many years, and this book is a wonderful summation of his leadership philosophy. I’d highly recommend it (even if he weren’t my partner)…

http://www.holaelefante.com – or buy the book here.

When Its Time To Leave Your Job

I’m often asked by unhappy managers if they should leave their job. It’s a somewhat complicated question which boils down to a simple question: “Are you happy?”

Happiness in a job is critical – more critical than the money you earn or the uncertainty of trying to find a new job. We spend at least a third of our lives working; why would you want to spend all that time being unhappy?

Unhappy employees are far less productive and – whether you realize it or not – your unhappiness manifests itself on other employees, even if you don’t say anything. People know.

Is the grass greener on ‘the other side’? You’ll never know until you find out.

People hate losses, say Richard H. Thaler and Cass R. Sunstein, authors of “Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness,” And “losing something makes you twice as miserable (than) gaining the same thing makes you happy.” They call this being “loss averse.”

We often are so focused on holding on to something we forget there are better things out there. The old saw, “the best time to look for a job is when you have a job,” maybe true; but it’s also a device for procrastination.

Don’t spend your life ‘stuck’ in a job. Ask yourself every morning if your truly excited about going to work. If the answer is no, you have your answer.

Life is too short.

From Andrea Kay via Courier Post Online.

How To Talk To Your Boss

(Almost) everyone has a boss. And bosses spend so much of their timing dealing with and listening to complaints, it becomes easy to ‘tune out’ another employee with yet another complaint.

I made it a rule with my employees – never complain unless that complaint comes with your solution. And make your point quickly – no one (least of all the boss) wants to spend long hours hearing someone make the same point over and over again.

James Lukaszewski, author of “Why Should the Boss Listen to You?” and a crisis-management expert, says workers who want to be listened to also need to:

  • Understand where the boss is coming from, and the goals he or she may be trying to achieve. “Bosses hear many voices every day,” he says. “You have to say something that will matter to them from their perspective.”
  • Recommend solutions rather than giving orders. Too often employees seeking to be trusted advisers act as if they were entitled to give their opinion and a boss should be obligated to listen.
  • Reduce stress and tension. Be the person who can walk into a room and everyone is comfortable you’re there, Lukaszewski says. Humor and stories often help ease tension.
  • Deliver recommendations in a digestible, usable form. Be brief, positive and constructive.
  • Propose incremental solutions. Don’t insist that you have the entire answer to a problem, but your suggestion may be part of a solution for your boss. “They want a menu of things to choose from,” he says.

From the Colorado Springs Gazette via South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

People Don’t Quit Bad Companies, They Quit Bad Bosses

From the Orange County Register:

An interview with an expert who discovered that only 3 in 10 employees are highly motivated – and found that the discontent is directly related to dissatisfaction with their bosses.

The answer: people management skills training for managers. We’ve said it before – managers are trained in everything except how to manage people.

The expert is Terry Bacon, who wrote this book based on his findings.

The Carrot or the Stick?

I just bought this book on the basis of an article I read at CNN.com. It goes to one of the principles in my book: employees want and need to be rewarded, and the rewards to you for positive recognition are just about unlimited.

Do your managers regularly recognize good performance, or are they ignoring good performance with the expectation that ‘that’s what they’re supposed to do’?

Positive recognition – and knowing how and what to praise for – is essential. Make sure it’s happening.