What do you need to know about your boss to succeed at your job? Forbes staff writer Susan Adams once learned first-hand what it’s like to work for a boss who micro-manages. In a past job as a team member of a nightly TV show, she says that she was required to send frequent email updates, since her boss didn’t think the team was doing a good job unless she could constantly monitor their actions.
Adams refers to a list of questions provided by Joe Magee, an associate professor at New York University’s Stern School of Business, who says you need to learn about your boss’ goals, values, and leadership style to be a successful employee. Magee recommends starting by finding out about your boss’ career history: “We think of the boss as all-knowing, but we’ve all had bosses who didn’t know what they were doing. Help them shine and you will look good in the process,” he advises. That also means finding out how they got started in their current role to get a better understanding of their reputation with others in the company.
Magee says it’s also important to find out what your boss’ goals are moving forward: “Is this someone who values power and status? If so, you’d better help that person climb the corporate ladder.” Learn about their motivation to come to work each day and where they fit into the corporate hierarchy. How does your boss get along with her boss? Figure out if your boss is dedicated to her team and whether she will help you to excel in your career.
You also need to understand your boss’ management style, which Magee says can be tough: “This is one of the big things people struggle with at work. There is such individual variation.” For example, switching from a boss who micro-manages to one who allows you to work much more independently could be a challenge. Learn about your boss’ preferred communication style to ensure that you have no problem communicating with each other. Get to know more about who your boss is outside of the office, too.