How to Talk to Your Boss

What you communicate to your manager can make all the difference in your job.

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One of the most regular office puzzles is what we should share with the boss. We don't want to say too much or share bad news unnecessarily, but we also don't want to keep them out of the loop on something they need to know. When it comes to those conversations, employees can really distinguish themselves with over-information and manipulation, or with concise and useful communications.

These tips come from Andy Lester's "How to Speak Manager" slideshow (Lester pens " The Working Geek" blog):

What not to tell the boss:

  • Every normal thing that goes on (unless he wants that).
  • Your problems without potential solutions.
  • Problems you can solve yourself.

What to tell the boss:

  • Good things and their effects.
  • Bad things and how you fixed them.
  • Always say: Should I do X or Y?
  • Never delay bad news hoping it will get better.

There's a phrase for these kinds of judgment calls: You're managing your boss. To some, it sounds straight out of consultant-speak 101, but the idea is that the attention a manager pays to an employee's strengths and tendencies should also be paid by an underling to a supervisor.