Merge's Blog

Build a stronger working relationship with your boss by jointly setting priorities

Business Meeting: Professional Successful Team; Managing DirectoFor the last couple of posts, I’ve been talking about actions you can take to strengthen your working relationship with your boss.  Earlier this week, it was about building trust through consistency in behaviour and action.  Today I want to cover one final topic in this series – how to address conflicting priorities with the full support of your manager or supervisor.

Conflicting priorities are a reality in every single client organization I work with.  Whether they are originating directly from your boss, or from a variety of senior people with whom you have working relationships, it’s not unusual to find yourself in a situation where you’ve got too much to do, not enough time to get it done, and all expected to be done at the same time.  In such situations, it’s easy to get overwhelmed.  But there is a solution that can not only ease the pressure but also allow you to strengthen your relationship with your boss at the same time.  Set your priorities jointly with your manager.  This is a lot easier that you might realize.

Boss [insert your manager’s name here], Roger has requested the sales forecast by tomorrow, and we’ve also got the Board presentation and your legal team briefing document that need to be finished right away.  I’m thinking of prioritizing the Board presentation and getting that completed first since it may require additional review.  What do you think?

Did you see what I just did?  I just accomplished several things.  First, I let the boss know that I have conflicting priorities, so he is now part of the solution.  Second, I started a dialogue about how to rank several important tasks and the ensuing conversation will give me greater insight into what my boss considers to have the greatest urgency.  Third, whatever approach I now take, my boss is on board and supportive of it, which means that even if things don’t turn out exactly the way we expected, I can still count on the boss to have my back.  Bottom line: jointly setting priorities makes this a team effort, and if you can do that, you’ve strengthened your relationship with your boss.

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