Talking to your boss doesn't have to be a scary experience. Most managers actually want their employees to feel comfortable asking questions and speaking up about problems, because they know that open communication is at the heart of a good working relationship. Overcome your fears by following this advice:
- Learn your boss’s priorities. You don’t want to bother your boss with something he or she sees as trivial. Find out your manager’s plans, goals, and major problems so you can choose what to talk about and what to deal with on your own.
- Get to the point. Managers want to talk, but they don’t want to waste time. Whether you’re writing an email or coming in for a meeting, decide what you need to say and lead off with that so both of you can quickly focus on what needs to be done.
- Present solutions, not problems. Don’t simply walk into your boss’s office with a problem and demand an answer. Figure out the best strategy and offer that as you discuss the situation. Your manager may or may not agree, but you’ll make a better impression if you come across as someone with initiative, not a complainer.
- Prepare to be flexible. Recognize that sometimes your boss is legitimately too busy to drop everything and talk. If the issue isn't an emergency, ask for a good time to come back. You’ll show that you understand his or her responsibilities, and your boss will appreciate your willingness to wait.
- Commit to honesty. Don't hide unpleasant facts, or tell your boss what you think he/she wants to hear. You'll only waste time and lose your manager's trust in the long run once the facts come out. You'll win your manager's respect by telling the truth, even when you disagree.
- Listen. Don’t expect to do all the talking. A good manager will listen, and you should show the same courtesy when your boss is speaking. Pay close attention, ask questions to confirm your understanding, and take notes as necessary to show you’re taking the boss’s instructions and perspective seriously.