How to make your boss work for you

No matter what your role is, you always have a boss. Most of the time what's needed is some time carved out to add structure around priorities and process. Taking the initiative and adding this structure has been coined "managing up", but all it's all about making your life easier and less stressful. Follow these steps and you will improve communication, documentation, and you'll have a healthier working relationship. Most importantly, you'll have your boss working for you—helping you get things done.

Regular check-ins (ideally once a week for 15-30 minutes)

While these check-ins shouldn't cannibalize your actual 1:1 meetings, you should make sure to have time with your boss to align once a week. This should be done in a real-time meeting (synchronously).

Always have a clear agenda and document

Without an agenda, your meeting will be a free-for-all. Try creating a collaborative document in Input with your boss. Make sure to have your meeting broken down into a simple agenda that covers the following:

  • Company priorities: What are the most important problems the company needs to solve?
  • Action items and tasks: This is a list of to-dos. Who is accountable? When does it need to be done?
  • Questions: What are the unknowns, and who can answer this?
  • Decisions: Document all the major decisions made.

Align on process

As you talk about all the things you'll need to do to help your company and team, you'll need to be clear about what you need from your boss to work effectively. Be clear about tasks for your boss and when they're due. If your boss delegates their task to you, make sure that they understand that you own that portion of the decision making. Talk about your expectations and what you need from them to be successful.

Anticipate risks or potential snags

It's always important to look around the corner and think ahead. Make sure to think about potential risks and unknowns that could block you from completing your tasks. Sometimes time can be a blocker as well, so be clear about your estimates—if estimates change, make sure to communicate them earlier. It's better to always notify your team and your boss when there is a potential issue ahead of time (versus let issues drag on). Staying proactive prevents micromanagement and helps you build trust between you and your boss.

Consider using Input to document your agenda, tasks, and open questions with your boss. As your boss checks things off, you will get notified every step of the way, ensuring accountability. If you follow this guideline, your boss will be working for you.