You might manage employees well, but how do you manage your boss?
To make the most impact, position yourself as an advisor. Provide practical guidance and propose actions that help advance your boss's goals.
"Most managers suffer from the "face time fantasy" where they assume that just being in the boss's presence is a sign of access," says James Lukaszewski, author of Why Should the Boss Listen to You? "That's bogus. The key is how you use that time."
Serve as a trusted advisor by providing advice on the spot, says Lukaszewski, aconsultant in White Plains, N.Y., Use your limited time with senior execs to tell them what to do.
Many managers hesitate to advise higher-ups. Instead, they may take notes as the boss describes a problem, maybe ask a few questions, express agreement and then leave. If they return a few hours later with an actionable idea, the boss may have either solved the problem or shifted to other matters.
Shrewd managers dive right in with advice, Lukaszewski says. They walk into the room ready to adopt the boss's mindset. By broadening their perspective so that they see the organization through the boss's eyes, they can offer instant insight and counsel.
"Mid-managers need to gain expertise in at least one area outside of their staff function," Lukaszewski says. "That additional layer of knowledge helps them advise the boss in real time."
Speaking of time, it's important to deliver advice succinctly. Most senior execs can listen for about three minutes before they interrupt or tune out, Lukaszewski says. Stay focused and avoid rambling as you present your "here's what you should do" plan.
To add value, tell your boss what he or she cannot possibly know. Examples include citing just-released statistics to support your case or discussing what you learned at an industry conference.