Jan 31, 2007

The boss relationship



Over the last couple of days I have been talking to some friends who have one common issue these days: Boss problems.

It's a difficult relationship, this one, and finding the perfect boss is a function of many factors. The biggest of course, is your own personality.

Reflecting back on my own career, I've had the opportunity to work with some great bosses, like the three Balajis in Satyam, Rick and Asha at HP and Aniruddha at Dell.

Whether remote or co-located, great bosses do some things better than not-so-great bosses.

  1. Their focus is always on your needs. A great boss understands that a great employee has needs that have to be fulfilled, and that it sometimes has to come before the client or customer needs for long term success. Once a boss establishes a trust that your need is paramount to him/her, then you trust that boss with all your heart.
  2. A boss admits when he can't help you. Great bosses are direct and upfront with their plans. When I talked to one of my bosses that I wanted to move to another division as the work they were doing in L&D was much superior to what I was doing, he told me "I know that you might want to go there, but right now I need you in this role, as we are getting the basics in place here" . I could take that because I knew that he had point 1 on his mind too.
  3. A boss always communicates. A great boss always takes time to spend time to share what's on his/her mind, the issues he/she is up against as well as what you are going through in the office. I believe when a boss shares his/her vulnerabilities you end up making the relationship much more richer. It would be a great idea to also share ideas and bounce off ideas that the boss could use. This could be during a performance related meeting or additionally.
  4. A boss gives you credit. In my first job, when we were trying to realign our business unit I helped get a lot of business folks into a primarily technology company. During the unit's annual review offsite, the MD of the firm walked into the review and my VP told him that we had been able to hire some really great people without any additional expenses, and then he told him "All because of that guy." he pointed to me sitting in the last row,"Gautam was instrumental in getting them due to his internet networks". Remember, this was the time when I was two years into the job and the VP was 6 levels above me in rank. By sharing it with the MD and putting the focus on me, he ensured that I always put in more than 100% in my work after that too :-)
  5. A great boss is not insecure of your abilities. A great boss never shies away from hiring people who have skills that complement his own. Most people get scared of hiring a subordinate who gets a functional skill that they have little or no knowledge about. Working with a great boss who has no such insecurities is an amazing feeling, have you experienced it?

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