A “Flawless” Conversation with your Boss

This is the most important ongoing conversation that you have in your organization. It sets the guidelines for how you and your boss will work together. It is the beginning of a partnership with your boss and a step toward empowerment for you.

Most of us believe that we are already having such conversations. I know I did. Yet when I dig deeper with people, I find that most conversations were as a benevolent parent (boss) to a compliant child (employee), not as partners.

First step: you will have to initiate this meeting. Do not wait for your boss. He or she has a lot going on so such a conversation isn’t on their radar. Prepare for the conversation by getting clear about the situation you are facing and what you want from your boss.

The contracting meeting from Flawless Consulting offers an excellent format with a couple of variations. Here are the key elements of the conversation.

Describe the situation. This is an opportunity to take ownership of your work, projects, etc., and describe how you want to complete the work. It is being proactive. Consider statements like:

Share your wants/offers. “The support, resources, understanding I want from you is… (be specific)”

Ask the boss for his/her wants/offers. “What do you want from me?”

Ask for concerns. “What concerns do you have about how I plan to proceed? What’s at risk for you, Boss?”

Summarize your conversation and offer to send an email outlining what you discussed.

I remember my first conversation like this with my boss. I was a nervous wreck anticipating all kinds of terrible endings, Once we got started, it became surprisingly pleasant… two adults talking as colleagues. Over the next few years, our relationship changed more to a partnership, then to a trusted advisor.

I learned to initiate these conversations in situations, like whenever I…

In the Flawless Consulting Skills workshops, I began to ask participants to schedule a conversation with their bosses to discuss the workshop content and what they wanted to continue their learning.

So, here’s my encouragement to you. Schedule a conversation with your boss over the next five business days about something you’re working on, and go have a talk using the format above. It will take courage and it will change your relationship. Give it a try.

I’d love to hear your stories. Drop me a note. Let me know how it’s going.

Charles L Fields was a highly acclaimed Senior Consultant at Designed Learning and a lover of life. He traveled the world by car, rail, plane, and ship, watched the sunrise on Croagh Patrick, and set on Victoria Peak, weathered a perfect storm in the Pacific, bartered for a darbuka in the Grand Bazaar, prayed at Lord Nelson’s Sarcophagus, ate lunch in the oldest restaurant in the world. His prolific and thought-provoking writing contributed to the design and re-design of many DL products, including Flawless Consulting, Empowerment, and Stewardship. Charlie shared his passion for this body of work in over 25 countries. His impact is a blessing.