Finding ways of working together

Key to getting on well with your boss is to have a shared vision for what you will do and deliver. Once you have your feet under the table, by about the 30 day mark, you should have a reasonable view of what is achievable in the remainder of your first 100 days. Be prepared to put some firm stakes in the ground about what you think you can deliver by when, and what milestones you will have along the way. Spend a decent chunk of time on this – it is the bellweather against which your success will be judged.

In terms of how you will deliver, if your boss’s style differs markedly from your own, you will need to drive hard to balance your respective management styles. Your way of doing things may be very different, but you need to be able to work at least predominantly within your own management style otherwise you are always playing off the back foot and not maximising your abilities.

What you are looking for is a balance between autonomy and supervision, ideas and detail, resources and targets in a proportion that suits you. You may need to think outside the box to make this happen:

  • It can be as disheartening to have no regular interest shown in your progress, and no support given to your initiatives, as it is to be micro-managed. Agree with your boss how often you need a touch-base for direction, and what key things you will need from him or her to keep things rolling. If you need more time and input than your boss can provide, consider asking for a mentor for a few weeks or months.
  • If your boss insists on seeing every report you produce before it’s published, go along with it for a while, but work toward a generic format for reports on which you both agree. Then move to sending the report, but summarising the main points in a covering email, until the points in the email become the basis of your dialogue with your boss, not the whole report.
  • If your boss is an ‘instant results’ person, agree a calendar of events and dates up-front, with clear milestones to show progress. Negotiate time to get up to speed with the organisation, the team and the challenge. In early meetings, agree to bottom-out early priorities, but don’t commit to dates until you’ve had a chance to work out what’s involved – there may be a lot more to seemingly simple things than you realise, so look before you leap!
  • If you can see a key priority your boss doesn’t agree with, link it back to his or her objectives, and show how it fits in context. Few bosses will argue with an activity that fulfils a key criterion for a bonus or pay-rise
  • Head off demands for rafts of detail by agreeing to cite sources and where they can be seen, rather than including them in your reports.

The key is to make the boss feel comfortable and confident that you have everything under control and that you will deliver what they need when they need it, and without creating ripples of discontent.