At Work

Winning over your boss

It took me a while to realise that the relationship between older corporate managers and their young executives is akin to one between a parent and child.

Not so long ago I overheard my friendís daughter trying hard to convince him that the hours spent with her friends at a popular coffee outlet were actually study sessions.

He was definitely far from convinced. Instead, he rebutted by saying that it was more likely that the teenagers were idling their time.

No matter how hard she tried, the teenager didnít seem to be making much headway in getting him to believe that it is now a trend for youngsters to study together and make use of the free Wi-Fi in coffee outlets.

A few weeks later, my friend admitted that what his daughter had said was true and that college and high school students do meet at coffee outlets to study together. He also admitted that his daughter was also doing well in her studies.

Just like a parent, older corporate managers are less likely to buy in to young executivesí working styles and ideas if they were not persuaded to do so.

In order for this to happen, the young managers or executives need to first win over the boss and to gain his confidence.

Every boss or manager, whether young or old, wants reliable employees who can do their job well without the boss having to look over their shoulders all the time. Employees who can deliver give the boss the time to focus on his or her own goals.

Young employees who join big established corporations usually find it hard to adapt to the work culture that may seem archaic and tedious to them. Having been brought up in a virtual environment, filling up multiple forms and having to go through layers of red tape might be hard to adapt to.

Effective ways

Even if you have a more effective way of doing things, just endure the old ways for a while and earn your confidence before you can get the management to listen to you.

Another important element that can get your manager to hear you out is by building a good relationship with him or her. Any good relationship is built on great communication. If you take an interest in the companyís goals and priorities and are able to discuss them with your boss, he is likely to look at you as someone who is loyal, dedicated and has the companyís interest in mind.

Winning over your boss does not mean to curry favour with your boss. It means to help him build a good impression of you because how he thinks of you determines how far you will go in the company and how much increment you will receive.

No employer will fault an employee for working hard. It would be wise for a newly hired executive to volunteer for most of the projects that the company undertakes but make sure not to overload as you would want to do each job well.

Before you can convince your boss that your opinion matters, you must show that you have initiative and that you are a thinking person.

Problem solving

Managers usually like to be presented with possible solutions to problems rather than just the problems where he/she is required to spend time investigating and coming up with solutions.

If you are able to handle these preliminary steps and come up with suggestions for solutions, you can be sure your bossesí confidence in you and your opinion will grow. He will begin to bounce ideas off you and seek your opinion occasionally.

Try to take note of what they are passionate about personally and take an interest. Similarly you can also invite them to take an interest in your passion. Sometimes, it is through such informal environments that you get to show your other potential.

For instance you may be able to strike a mutual chord in compassion and love for animals through a conservation campaign that you may be supporting or helping out with.

Building a relationship with and earning the confidence of your employer is not much different from what you have been doing all your life; doing well in school to please your parents, seeking approval of your mentors by behaving appropriately and, making your coach proud by playing your best in a sport.

Fundamental tips

There are rules to earning your bossí confidence and they can be quite basic.

First, respect your management and your colleagues. Once you start to tell them that your way is better than theirs, they will begin to see things your way.

Work hard and be helpful; do not shun work thatís supposedly not your job. Build good communication channels with your bosses and colleagues.

Take an interest in the larger picture - the general focus and goals of the organisation to enable you to form your opinions. A clever buy in to the managementís heart and companyís culture will ensure a more secure career path.

Article extracted from 'Workable Tips', StarEducate. Paul Kam is a Kuala Lumpur-based managing director to a HR consulting and training organisation, with over 16 years in consulting, training and advisory experience throughout Asia. He has worked extensively with both private and public sector leaders throughout Asia and has designed and led several transformation, alignment and strategic change initiatives.

He is a qualified advocate and solicitor and a member of the Malaysian Institute of Management. He is also a certified team profiler, and life and wealth coach. He can be reached at