dont want credit for it, just wanna see it done!
February 17, 2009 10:13 AM   Subscribe

How can I influence my boss into doing something? I dont want credit for it, I just want it to get it done!

My boss has a senior position within our company (he's a VP) and he has a lot of things going on at all times. He does a great job in leading his team, but he sometimes gets lost in day to day stuff. He has planned an upcoming team gathering where we're supposed to plan the year ahead, set goals, etc. In past gatherings, due to everyone's busyness, the whole meeting agenda was "played by ear" was done on the fly. We could have achieved much more if it was actually planned. So here's the deal: I have worked on planning a very detailed agenda with very specific items and goals. How can I present this to the boss without him feeling like I'm planning more than him?
To be honest, I care about the companie's future a lot. Vested interest. Yet, I dont need or want credit for this planning. I just want to see it done. If I could be blunt, I'd say to him: "just present this as yours, but lets make sure we do it"
posted by theKik to Work & Money (7 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I'm assuming that not all the items in your very detailed agenda are absolutely essential to the meeting. So why don't you pick out your top one or two items, talk to your boss, and ask to make sure those items are on the agenda for the meeting. If there is no agenda planned, perhaps your boss will structure one around these items. I would be hesitant to put a fully detailed agenda in the hands of a boss - it comes across as pushy (at best) or like you think he's a complete moron (at worst). Just give him one or two critical things that you all should cover during the meeting.

Remember that he's coordinating many different people, and probably all of them could come up with their own very detailed agendas of things that should be covered, and I'm guessing that their lists would diverge quite a bit from yours. The role of the boss is to cover the one or two critical things for each member of the team, and then let them hammer out the details later.
posted by sherlockt at 10:21 AM on February 17, 2009

If it was me I would walk into my boss's office and say "Hey boss I was thinking about next week's planning meeting and I wrote out some ideas of things that I thought might be useful to discuss." *hand him the paper* "let me know what you think."

The way I see it it will take him no more than a few minutes to read through your proposed agenda and the worst case scenario is he sees you as someone who has a strong sense of investment in the company. I think little games where one person tries to get the other person to "do something" without coming out and saying what they want done are a huge waste of time and productivity.

Disclaimer: I am often accused of being too blunt and lacking in tact. I also have a non-typical relationship with a boss who has told me he values directness. YMMV
posted by Bango Skank at 10:43 AM on February 17, 2009 [2 favorites]

"I know you're busy, so I brainstormed up an agenda for the annual meeting thingy coming up. Let me know of any changes you'd like and I'll print it up for you and distribute it."

Or just own it, as Bango explained. A boss would usually appreciate the proactiveness if you said "I'd like to handle the annual thingy agenda, cool? Cool." (Sit on your hands a few hours) "Here's a draft for you to look over. Get back to me by date x with changes." Print and distribute on day x+1, without any reference to authorship if you're anxious about it looking like a power-grab or whatever.

It sounds like you're worried about making the boss look lazy/careless/unorganized/etc. or worried about looking like you're reaching beyond your position, but really it doesn't look like you have alot to worry about there. Just take the lead and back off if things sour.
posted by cowbellemoo at 11:19 AM on February 17, 2009

I would love you! Don't tee it up. Just do it and say, "I had some free time last night, I am really interested in the organizational/planning aspect of these meetings, I played around with something that might help get some things off your plate. Let me know what you think, I'd be happy to revise according to your specs." Don't worry too much about attribution -- one hopes that at his level he doesn't need to prove his meeting-agenda organizing skills.
posted by thinkpiece at 12:56 PM on February 17, 2009 [1 favorite]

Here are the pros & cons of approaches suggested so far.

cowbellmoo's approach ("Do you want me to handle the agenda") has the benefit that you'd have gotten his advance buy-in for the idea of you working on it, and if he gives you free reign, then you'll look like you came up with a lot of ideas quickly. If you get permission to handle this, then you get full authority to take your ideas to the hilt. But it risks him saying "don't do anything" or "you'll write the agenda? great. Include A, B, C, D, & E," in which case your ideas don't fully get heard and you've signed up for re-writing the agenda (though that extra work might be fine, it sounds like).

Bango Skank's approach ("here are my ideas") ensures your ideas get heard and that the thoughtfulness you've put into this will be fully evident. Its two risks are that you might be missing some key fact ("oh, actually, we've hired a paid facilitator to run this meeting" or "we've actually decided to focus this meeting on our Europe product lines"), that if you don't word your offer carefully you could look like you're trying to do his job for him, and that ideas that are presented in their full manifestation without having gotten some guidance at intermediate stages sometimes get rejected because they overwhelm the person (the person finds it too draining to look through and understand all the details).

You might think about removing the detail, showing him the agenda at the top level of the outline, and then saying "I'd be happy to add some detail here if this is an approach you like." Then he can give you some guidance and you could make some changes.

For reference, the things you're asking him to agree to:
- the idea of a fixed agenda (maybe he likes free flow where topics can emerge)
- the topics and goals you've picked (maybe he had a different idea of the main issues)
- the idea of a schedule (maybe he likes conversations to take their own time)
- the details of how each topic would be handled and how long it would take (maybe he thinks Topic X needs 20 minutes)

I'm recommending you tackle the first two in your first conversation. "I'm interested in your planning for this upcoming meeting, since it seems like we have so much to discuss. I had some ideas of main topics / a possible flow for the meeting -- here they are. What do you think about setting up a more fixed agenda? I'd be happy to add some detail to something like this if you think it'd help." Then if he buys into the idea of an agenda, you add details and then point out that you added times, and then volunteer to be the timekeeper ("if you want me to be the timekeeper to make sure we get through everything, I could keep an eye on the clock.")
posted by salvia at 1:24 PM on February 17, 2009

I like Bango's approach, perhaps with some of salvia's ideas for softening it.

One little thing I'd do in addition is put a text box on the front of your agenda with the word "DRAFT" in red, all caps (some people still have stamps like this). You still get to show your boss all the work you did and ideas you have, but it signals that you expect this to be a give-and-take.
posted by mullacc at 2:06 PM on February 17, 2009 [1 favorite]

great advice from all of you!
posted by theKik at 2:54 PM on February 17, 2009

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