Most advice about success at Work focuses on becoming a good leader, but you can't become a good leader until you first become a good follower. Your boss is the most important individual to work with to achieve success at Work. Your boss can provide you with training, assignments, opportunities, and advancement within the organization.
Many young people entering the work force are surprised to learn that their boss is not perfect. Your boss is a unique individual that can get in a bad mood, make a bad decision, or exhibit imperfections just like anyone else. The key to achieving success at Work is to Work around the idiosyncrasies of Your boss.
Meeting Your Bosses' Standards
Some workers never take the time to understand the requirements of an assignment. At Motorola, I worked on a project that was getting behind schedule and over budget. At a project meeting, the boss asked us to not embellish our assignments with all kinds of extras. He said "Just meet the requirements".
After that meeting, every time I received an assignment I stopped and thought, "Exactly what are the requirements for this assignment?" Stopping to consider the requirements has served me well through the years - including getting me through college.
What are your bosses standards for quality? Some bosses just want a quick and dirty job. Some bosses expect everything to be perfect. Some bosses SAY they just want a quick and dirty job, but when they don't get perfect results, they complain. The solution is to determine the requirements of the assignment and just meet the requirements. Nothing more, nothing less.
Accommodating Your Bosses Work Style
Some bosses like to involve them self in your assignment. I've seen cases where the boss gives an assignment, and then sits with you while you're working on the assignment. Most of the time, boss involvement relates to making decisions. Some bosses want to make all the decisions, especially when the worker is new and unknown.
Some bosses expect you to make all the decisions yourself. They give you an assignment and then make them self scarce so you can't ask any questions. They just want you to get the job done. They don't want to be bothered with the details. Some bosses want to know every little detail of the progress of the assignment.
You need to learn how to accommodate the work style of your boss. It's best to make as many decisions as possible yourself. Keep your boss informed about the progress of your assignment with regular updates. Recognize when the importance of a decision requires you to consult with the boss. Respect your bosses time. If you need help, approach the boss at an opportune moment for the boss and ask when would be a good time to talk. Before you approach the boss for a decision, be prepared to offer possible solutions that the boss might choose from.
Getting Feedback From Your Boss
Some bosses are uncomfortable giving a worker feedback, especially if the feedback is negative. Without feedback you can't succeed at work. The solution is to ask your boss for feedback. Ask them how you could have done better on an assignment.
When your boss gives you an assignment, repeat back to them what the expected result of the assignment is and what your first step will be. This will give your boss confidence that you understand the assignment. If there are any areas of the assignment that are unclear, ask questions. You won't appear stupid if you ask questions when you get an assignment, but you will look stupid if you wait until the assignment is almost due to ask a question.
Politics at the Management Level
It's a fact that all large organizations operate based on politics. Managers collect big salaries, and they don't want to lose that money when they make a mistake. In fact, they strive to make even bigger money by making themselves look good (usually by making someone else look bad). Organizational politics is a complex game of back stabbing and "ass" covering.
At the manager level, playing politics is not a choice, it's a requirement for survival. Although workers are not generally involved in an organizations political game, you can make big points by helping your boss play the game. You do this by making your boss look good.
Never disagree with or confront your boss in public. This will cause them to lose face. If you disagree with your boss, inform them politely in private that you are expressing your opinion to give the boss more information. Let the boss know that despite your disagreement, you intend to carry out your assignment the bosses way.
Some bosses will try to cover their ass by blaming their mistakes on you. Your best response is to just shrug it off. In an organization, everybody knows who is really responsible when a mistake is made.
Some bosses want honest answers. other bosses want an excuse they can use to cover their ass. Some workers have such good rapport with their boss that they can give them an honest answer along with excuses the boss can use to play the political game (cover their ass).
Never make your boss look bad. Always give advance notice of when you will take time off, and provide a way to cover your responsibilities while you're gone. Try to make your boss look good. In fact, if you accomplish something successful that has high visibility in the organization, give your boss the credit. Then inform your boss of your career goals. That's another rule of the politics game - you take care of me and I'll take care of you.
Your boss is the most important individual to work with to achieve success at Work. Your boss is a unique individual that can get in a bad mood, make a bad decision, or exhibit imperfections just like anyone else. The key to achieving success at Work is to Work around the idiosyncrasies of Your boss.