Negotiating with your boss can sound like a nightmare for most women—most of us fear the outcome and don’t really know how to frame our argument in a successful way. As women, we feel that when we confront our bosses about serious problems that we might face censure or be labeled a “trouble maker” and that hinders our ability to truly innovate and find creative solutions for the problems we face in our careers—because we “don’t want to rock the boat.”
As strong, intelligent women, we definitely have the resources and knowledge to be able to present new ideas, programs, problems or situations that we feel need to be addressed in our workplace. In negotiating any situation, we must first understand our bosses—research is important to negotiating, and in this case, we need to do our due diligence where our boss is concerned. Here is a secret that I have used and that I know will work for you: smart women learn how to actually manage their bosses, understand their perspective and motivations, so that they can align and frame their pitch to align with what their boss truly wants and needs.
It sounds so simple—yet, how is it achieved? Well, it starts with following my 7 Workplace Principles, understanding your bosses’ management style and modifying your communication/behavior style to complement your boss’s style. Using these tips and tricks will help you be prepared for going to bat for what you want to achieve in your career.
PRINCIPLE #1 • Schedule regular meetings with an agenda in advance.
Really, we are talking about more meetings and agendas? When you approach your boss for a meeting to talk about a promotion, a raise, or a new program, you need to have an agenda and a schedule so that you can meet to decide, and not end up stuck in the review limbo. This is also a key element in building a management dialogue, because you want to meet with your boss on the same level, as two colleagues discussing a topic not a subordinate bringing a complaint—just like tattling in school, it will not benefit your plan in the long run.
PRINCIPLE #2 • Provide Regular reports and project updates.
You have got to be kidding me, more reports, do we have to add to my already full workload? Information, to a boss, is king, but the secret: format is queen! You must be able to anticipate what your boss wants, and one of the ways you figure this out is to present regular updates on your progress. Bosses are just as inundated as you, so keep it simple, succinct, and do not ramble! Your boss will respond and you will learn from that response for your next meeting.
PRINCIPLE #3 • Know your boss’s goals and responsibilities.
Remember, ladies, your bosses have goals that they are required to fulfill. Some of the items that you should consider when framing this portion of your plan are: how it can make the company more profitable or efficient, know the “hot button” issues, remember it’s not about your needs, plan the roll out or implementation plan, what would a successful program look like, document the estimated cost and plan for all the possible “no’s” beforehand.
PRINCIPLE #4 • Ask for feedback.
How am I doing? When in doubt, don’t forget that your boss also functions as a resource, and they are privy to many administrative issues that you aren’t—by simply asking for help or for perspective can add to your boss’s opinion of your proposed project.
PRINCIPLE #5 • Commit and follow through.
Ladies, live by your word. Your word is your brand and making sure that you are doing your due diligence by establishing trust with a deadline-driven behavior is crucial to managing your boss.
PRINCIPLE #6 • Get to know your boss.
Seems like a no brainer, but employees don’t always do this. Do take the time to research your boss’s motivation, their expectations, how they like to receive information, how they communicate disappointment, how do they praise their employees, what is their management style, etc. A clear understanding of their style will help you frame your proposals.
PRINCIPLE #7 • Always make your boss look good; never make her regret having hired you.
Make sure all of your actions make your boss look like they were the smartest person when she decided to hire you—this will help you in the long run, because most bosses will not forget when you helped them achieve recognition or praise from their superiors or a client.