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111 Key Principles for Success

Principle 12 - Be one step ahead of your boss

Your boss is so important to your success.  

The saying "You only get one chance to make a first impression" may be the most important thing when dealing with your boss.

The only place your boss might not be important is if their manager doesn't like them so being associated with them could hurt you.

You have limited time to impress them and once you fail your screwed as a confirmation bias is formed. There's little you can do to change their opinion.  One thing to do is be a step ahead of your boss. Think of it like a chess game. What are there possible moves and how will you respond to them?

Anticipate what they want you to do and do it before you're told. The best way is to listen to the questions they ask you and others. Collect these questions or rules they have somewhere and before you meet with them, see what questions they'll ask and how you would answer them.

Set up a schedule to check these questions. Do it at least once a day possibly each hour. Have a dashboard that their questions are constantly answered.

Make a game out of it. Make sure to listen to what the boss tells you both verbally and non-verbally. Today I missed an 8 am Monday morning meeting. I was so focused on the 9 AM meeting that I never was aware of the 8 Am one.

This leads to the rule:

Check for meetings the next day the night before.

This could be a habit, alarm or process. It's needed once in a while.

So think about what your boss is worried about. What keeps her up at night?  What do you do that she doesn't like? Does she see the value you bring?

What is your boss about to ask you to do?  What skills do you have to work on?

My boss told me straight out that I need to respond to emails within a day. This gives me the rule:

Check your emails each hour

Here are some general questions to be prepared to answer, but cater them to your specific boss. Use the 5WH (Who, What, Where, When, Why, How) to generate questions they'll ask you:
  • What are you working on?
  • Can you do x?
  • How long will it take?
  • How do I ....?
  • Where is the documentation for ...?
  • Why didn't you ...?
  • What is the delivery date?
  • What was discussed at the meeting?
  • Clarify what the boss doesn't understand
  • What's being tested?
  • Is sign-off needed?
  • What is the problem?
  • Who would know this?
  • Can we find out? Program should know.
  • What is the Impact to us?
  • Why aren't we raising this as an issue to the program (answer was we got this yesterday)
  • If x fails will it go to y?
  • What are we asking xyz to check and if they check we will have no problem?
  • What is the JIRA (bug/tracking tracking number)?
  • What is the due date?
  • Can we use live trades for testing in lower environment?
  • What are the requirements?
  • How Long ...?
  • What happened to ...?
  • Where is the plan?
  • Is xyz missing from the plan?
  • Who's working on it?
  • When will they finish?
  • What's the next step?
  • Why are you doing it that way?
  • Should you use tool x instead of y?
  • Who does the person work for?
  • Who's working on x?
  • What's the entry criteria?
  • Did you add that to SharePoint (or wherever documentation is kept?)
  • Did you follow up with xyz on ...?
  • Did you escalate it?
  • Where's the file/spreadsheet with the Open Issues, FAQs, ...?
  • Did you see email on ....?

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