A meeting with the boss isn’t quite like other meetings because there is often a lot more at stake. As a result, the pressure rises and the nerves begin to flutter. So, arriving prepared is all the more essential. Read this post for a few tips on how to enter this type of meetings with the odds on your side.
We focus on bilateral meetings here. They may look very differently depending on the relationship you have with your boss. But the following general guidelines will help you get the most out of a potentially stressful situation.
1. You need to have meetings with your boss
First things first, there is no way around it. You have to have meetings with your supervisor. That may not always be easy. Your boss’ agenda might be filled to the brim or maybe you are completely overwhelmed by all the different projects on your desk. But clearing a little space in your agenda to exchange with the boss is non-negotiable – and it needs to be more than a quick word at the coffee machine. Don’t wait until the annual assessment meeting. Instead, take the initiative and ask for a meeting yourself. Thereby you prove that you are: * motivated and take your work seriously; * interested in a constructive relationship with your boss; * proactive.
From a practical standpoint, a meeting with your boss is the ideal occasion to update him or her on your ongoing projects, identify potential blockages early on and further your career. Don’t miss out on the opportunity!
2. Every meeting needs to have an objective
Just like any other meeting, a meeting with your boss needs to have a topic of the day and a clear agenda. If you initiated the meeting then you need to provide both. If your boss asked to see you but hasn’t indicated why, make some further inquiries. Use an informal encounter beforehand or send a mail to get more information about the reasons for the meeting and the main points that will be discussed. Do so by underlining gains in efficiency. In this way, you will obtain the elements that will allow you to:
- Review the projects and works in progress that your boss plans to discuss;
- Do the necessary research;
- Work out related topics and interesting supplementary points to complete your agenda.
Psychologically preparing in that way will help you approach the meeting more calmly.
3. A meeting to tackle problems and find solutions
A meeting with your boss is not to be confused with afternoon tea. The goal is clearly to make progress. During your time of preparation, dedicate time to carefully listing the problems and challenges you are confronted with. Identify possible solutions or note different approaches. You can then spontaneously mention these problems and solutions during your meeting. Don’t leave any room for ambiguity! A meeting with your boss is the ideal opportunity to raise important issues, test your hypotheses and solicit support for your projects. But none of this is possible if the true issues are not openly addressed.
4. Respect your boss’ time… and your own
Time is a rare resource, so respect the slot your boss is dedicating to you. Be concise in your presentations. Get right to the point, stick to the facts and structure your reports to make your meeting as productive as possible. However, don’t forget to have a good time – be friendly and welcoming on the outside and professional and efficient at heart. Show your boss that you are aware of his charged agenda and want to make good use of his time.
Simultaneously, respect the value of your own time. A manager often opens the meeting by declaring that due to unforeseen obligations, he now only has half an hour to spare instead of the previously scheduled full hour. Depending on the urgency of the topics on the agenda, you can immediately offer to reschedule the meeting. Don’t settle for a rushed talk in passing, especially if you asked for the meeting. That might require a good bit of confidence but you are doing not only yourself but also your boss a favor. Especially strategical and sensitive information should be assigned sufficient time to explore all options. Therefore, it is certainly wiser to reschedule rather than settle on a shorter meeting that will prove a waste of time in the long run.
5. What are you taking away from the meeting?
By the time you enter your boss’ office you should have a clear idea of what you would like to walk away with. What are the questions that you expect answers to? What type of help or guidance do you expect your boss to provide?
Simultaneously, try to assess your boss’ expectations and needs. It is paramount that both of you have a clear idea of each other’s preoccupations, needs and propositions at the end of the day. Meetings should clearly display your determination to move in the same direction. Cooperation is absolutely key in finding solutions together. As a result, you should leave the room with a roadmap containing at least the outlines of your next actions.
A written record of this roadmap including a general idea of the topics discussed is important. Don’t delay writing a report that will serve as a reference and help prevent important decisions from disappearing in oblivion. Online tools can simplify the task and might even prove more efficient than a simple email.