IT Employment

10 ways to train your boss to give you the support you need

If your boss routinely ignores you, withholds praise, or offers little direction or feedback, you might need to take action. See how you can get your boss on the right track.

If your boss routinely ignores you, withholds praise, or offers little direction or feedback, you might need to take action. See how you can get your boss on the right track.


Got a lousy boss? Never gives you guidance or the praise you so richly deserve? Never takes you to lunch? Worse, do you sometimes get the impression that your boss doesn't even remember you exist? If you think there's nothing you can do about it, think again. Instead of wasting your energy whining to your co-workers, try some of these tips to subtly -- and not so subtly -let your boss know what you need.

This article is also available as a PDF download.

1: Congratulate yourself on your accomplishments

Tell your boss what a great job you did on your most recent projects. The fact that praise is not forthcoming could simply mean that your boss isn't aware of exactly what you do.

2:Lead by example

Try congratulating your boss on his or her accomplishments. Perhaps your boss' superior is not exactly generous with praise either.

3: Congratulate your peers in front of your boss

Assume the responsibility of telling your boss about your peers' accomplishments.

4: Try being direct

Tell your boss exactly what you need. Just as in all human relationships, we can't expect others around us to know what we need if we don't lay it out for them.

5: Arrange for a little guidance

Ask HR to schedule a management training class for your boss. Many IT managers accidentally fell into this role and have received little or no training on how to manage people.

6: Tell your boss that it's about time he or she bought you lunch

Or suggest scheduling a department lunch meeting or ordering in pizza once in a while.

7: Try sympathy

Like, "Wow, I wouldn't want your job -- it must be so hard to manage people, I don't how you do it. I just wouldn't know where to start. I'm not really a people person so it would be difficult for me to say things like 'Hey, Mike, you did a great job on that upgrade.' No, man, that stuff just doesn't come easily to me." Of course, your boss will probably just think you're insane, but it's possible you'll hit a nerve and start a useful conversation.

8: Insist on feedback

If you don't have a formal evaluation process in place or the process is inadequate, ask HR if one can be introduced or the existing one improved. You'll at least get to talk to your boss once a year and maybe even get some feedback on your job performance.

9: Work on communication

Establish regular communication, especially if your boss is a poor communicator. Make frequent requests for meetings to discuss projects, set goals, etc.

10: Share your priorities

Every Monday morning, email your boss a list of your goals for the week and ask for help prioritizing your tasks and filling in any omissions. With luck, this will open up a line of communication, make your boss aware of what you're working on, demonstrate what a conscientious employee you are, and provide an opportunity for your boss to explain priorities. If this fails to elicit the desired response, your efforts won't be wasted: You'll still have a useful to-do list for the week.


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16 comments
tieline
tieline

Just because you are not the boss doesn't mean you can't show leadership...if something is not working or you are mot getting what you need...be clear and direct and get your thoughts out there...everything else is cryptic and will be misconstrued

maclovin
maclovin

...is all I have to say to the above posting.

MarciaAnn
MarciaAnn

I don't know why there's so much animosity towards this posting, if you think there is a better 10-list; provide one. It may not have been the list I was looking for, but as with all that I read, I try to pull the best from it and move forward

KaryDavis
KaryDavis

Although I don't agree with a lot of the article...... I see no reason to be so harsh... I read the article because I have a boss who is a good guy...and is the smartest person I know...but he is sometimes so wrapped in his programming world, I do sometimes feel like part of the furniture. Most of the time I have to be direct with him...I am a bit of an introvert and because of the way my boss is, I cannot be that way around him. I don't see it as his problem. He isn't the one who is feeling left out, I am. So I'm approaching the commnunication issue as somethinig I need to work on...not him. Although if I had a crappy boss, I might feel very differently.

ray.white
ray.white

is this Toni's blog? am I still subscribed to Tech Republic?

SilverBullet
SilverBullet

has placed this fool in the position of managing humans. If one finds themself in this situation, look for an exit plan. However, in today's economy, perhaps accidentally backing over him in the parking lot after work would be an option. ooops

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

one spot in the nominations for the Stupidest post of 2009 awards. I hope mindless drivel devoid of a single redeeming feature is direct enough for you. If that doesn't come across, let me know.

jkameleon
jkameleon

First off, your boss is not your problem, but your employer's problem. You are neither required, not empowered to deal with it. 1, 2, 3: Congratulations are insulting, unless they are accompanied by cash rewards. Why train your boss in being insulting (even more)? Obviously, leading by example is pretty much out of the question either. Saving one's money (or playing lottery), and paying it to oneself in front of the boss doesn't make much sense, does it? 4: Well, duh! 5: Accidentally? Are you nuts? No manager falls in this role accidentally. Falling into management role requires a lot of diligent pushfulness. 6: You're kidding, right? 7: That's brown nosing, not sympathy. 8, 9, 10: That's boss's job, not yours.

tieline
tieline

Just because you are not the boss doesn't mean you can't demonstrate leadership. Be clear and be direct with what you need and cut out the cryptic acts that won't get you the support you need. In fact it may do the opposite....

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

Why? If I wanted to be one, I'd just take their job. If I didn't, I'd be doing mine and just ignoring them. Management is a skill like any other. You can develop it, hone it, gain experience in applying it. You can't implant it.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

from what can only be described as complete dross. In terms of things to do to improve your relationship with a boss I gave it 1/10 and that would be dependant on he or she being brave enough to accept and respond positively to scathing criticism. He should see you feeling left out as his problem, he should be addressing it with even more effort than you are. How in Cthulu's name can you manage something you don't understand the basics of? He isn't the real problem anyway, it's the halfwit who made him a manager you need to slap some sense into.

Forum Surfer
Forum Surfer

Not everyone feels congratulations are insulting. Although I can say that I don't think too highly of people that walk around congratulating themselves constantly. And I have seen the occasional accidental manager. I've been the accidental manager. 7. Yes, classic sucking up. No if, ands or buts about it. Period. End of story. End of line. Nobody likes that person! :) 8 & 9 are the boss' job. 10, however is a direct link back to number 7. It also sounds like something that someone who lacks personal motivation would say or do. A list? Every Monday? Seriously? Anyone higher than me would print out that list, roll it up, come to my office and whack me in the head with it for wasting their time and showing a lack of personal motivation. If you want a to-do list, make one that everyone can see and contribute to with multiple names on it, not just a personal suck up note to your boss to make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside in spite of having poop on your nose.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

Repeat ! :D Hmm have we had a manager on here who's had anything good to say about this list? If one appears, what would that say about them?

S,David
S,David

It could be that what the boss hears is that you don't want his job, so when he gets promoted, you don't.