Should we tell the boss?

Here are five things your boss always wants to hear -- and five things they hope you'll never tell them.

As an IT professional, you know the basic rules of office politics, the simple do's and don'ts that govern life at work. Adhering to these standards -- the ones that tell you to be proactive and a team player -- will help you keep your job. If you really want to advance, though, you need to know which types of information your boss relies on you to provide.

More isn't necessarily better, however, and discretion is everything. So, you also need to know the kinds of information your boss never wants to hear from you.

We asked a group of Computerworld's 2008 Premier 100 IT Leaders to talk about the kinds of messages they need to hear loud and clear from their employees and the things they never, ever want to hear. Here's what they said.

Five Things You Should Always Tell Your Boss

1. The real story

"Sugarcoating problems, holding back information, overpromising and consistently underdelivering are all reasons why IT has a bad reputation. We do this so well, we don't even realize there is a problem," says Robert Strickland, senior vice president and CIO at T-Mobile USA. "To lead effectively, I need the complete picture, as do our customers and our suppliers. When information is withheld, you are protecting no one."

Neal Puff, CIO for Arizona's Yuma County, agrees, but with the caveat that this is not a license to vent. "People sometimes confuse the truth with their opinion," he says.

2. Your ideas

"Bring me ideas to improve the business, even if they're outside of IT," says Kumud Kalia, CIO and executive vice president of customer operations for Canada-based Direct Energy, an integrated energy company and part of Centrica.

Sounds simple enough, but Kalia says workers are often reluctant to do this, thinking they have to go through established chains of command. But that's not necessarily the case. Bringing ideas straight to the top can help get initiatives going. "I can help get things launched and broker the appropriate conversations," Kalia says.

3. What you want

Ted Maulucci, CIO at Tridel, a condominium developer in Canada, tries to shift his workers into the jobs that they would enjoy most. It helps with employee retention, morale and productivity.

He points to one employee who loves working on hardware so much, he'll come in at 3am to tackle a new project.

That's why Maulucci wants to hear what his staffers want from their jobs and for their futures.

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