A lot of the rhetoric about management, including my own, can come across as pitting us against them. But I’m actually a manager, too. And my boss has a boss. So who’s us and who’s them? Okay, maybe your boss is a jerk. But it’s more likely they’re just a normal person in a role that’s conducive to jerk-y behavior. They probably have the same fears and anxieties you do. And they certainly share your same intrinsic needs for autonomy, purpose, and relatedness.
Working out loud can help them, too. So, for a change, here are 5 ways to frame working out loud as a contribution your boss will appreciate.
Make their team better
At work, we see how individuals who work out loud improve their entire team. One manager saw how “working out loud makes it far easier for the team to see what everyone is working on and contribute to others objectives.” He also saw how the additional feedback they were now getting had improved the quality of their products.
By making work visible, you make the work better while making everyone, including the boss, look good.
Engage their constituents
Another common use of our social collaboration platform is for teams to discuss plans for their products and services and to support their internal customers. The teams who do this find the extra visibility positively shapes their reputation and helps spread the word about their work.
Besides the improvement in quality, that extra visibility increases your boss’ stature in the firm. And it makes it easier for her to highlight the importance of her organization’s work when she’s fighting for resources.
Improve their productivity
Interaction workers (professionals, managers, salespeople) spend 28% of their time reading or writing email. They spend another 19% of the time trying to track down information (including searching through email). And it seems the higher you are in the hierarchy, the more emails you get and meetings you attend.
Help your boss by shifting more of their organization’s work online so it can be done in an asynchronous way. That’ll reduce their over-reliance on email and meetings for things like status updates, freeing up time for work that's more meaningful for them.
Recognize their work in public
Recognition, gratitude, and appreciation are universal gifts that are rarely offered in corporate settings. When’s the last time you offered public praise or a thank you for something your manager has done?
It doesn’t have to come off as fawning. It could be about the presentation they delivered well. The environment they created to help the team succeed. The budget they fought for. Simple, direct, authentic recognition for someone’s work is powerful at all levels, including management.
Expand their personal network
Ever hear of Impostor Syndrome? As people become more successful, there can be a tendency for some to feel like it’s luck, perhaps, and that it’s only a matter of time before others discover the truth. That kind of fear can lead to all sorts of behavior that’s bad for the boss and for people around them.
Help them by showing them examples of leaders communicating in less formal, more authentic ways. And gradually demonstrate how they, too, can work out loud and connect with their organization, their constituents, and managers just like them.
Remember: Invite, don’t indict
Yes, it seems most senior executives cling to ineffective work habits and are uncomfortable working in a more open, connected way. But posting Dilbert cartoons and laughing at your own version of the pointy-haired boss won’t help you and it won’t help them. In most cases, managers want work to be better, too. They just don’t know what to do.
Your boss, like it or not, is one of the most influential people in your network, so start thinking differently about the contributions you can make. Help them and you’ll be helping yourself.