The Best Ways to Manage the Boss’s Time

Helping the boss make the best use of his or her time is, well, your top priority. Doing so helps ensure that your manager—and by extension, you—shine.  

To be successful at this, you must understand your boss’s work style. Is he a micromanager who wants to know aspect of every project—in an exhaustive five-page report? Is she a “big-picture” person who prefers brief, face-to-face updates and one-to-two-page, double-spaced memos?

It’s almost impossible to change someone’s style. So, to ensure that your manager’s time—and yours—is used productively, you must adapt to the boss’s style.

You’ll also need to know the boss’s short- and long-term objectives and goals, strengths, weaknesses and pressures. This will allow you to anticipate your manager’s needs so you can proactively handle every project, issue and potential obstacle on the horizon. Close observation helps, as well as straight out asking what the boss feels would be the best use of your time, as well as where you add the most value.  

Communicating early and often is key. Set a regular meeting—every morning, every other day … or whatever works best to keep the boss up to speed on every project and team member. Should a big problem (or a big win!) occur, tell the boss immediately, because surprises make everyone look bad.  

Another important tip: Use technology (apps/calendar/checklists) to make sure nothing slips through the cracks and to plan for potential problems. Think of “what if” situations and how you would handle them. You always want to provide solutions, not complaints, objections or whining. Never present a problem unless you can suggest one or more solutions.

Finally, it’s up to you to proactively manage meetings. Create an agenda, action items and possible outcomes for every meeting. Schedule a timeframe for each topic and make sure the meeting manager keeps to it. Overlong meetings waste everyone’s time, but especially the bosses. 

Remember: Whatever makes your boss’s job easier makes your job easier.