Anxious about letting your boss know you are working on a side project? Here are four guidelines to help you know when and how to bring your boss up to date.
Be proactive. To build and maintain trust, you want your boss to hear from you and not someone else. Avoid putting off the conversation. That only conveys you have something to hide.
Explain what you are doing and the passion behind the effort. Be completely forthright in your description. Be careful not to cast your current role in an unflattering light (unless it really is a bad or difficult situation). Rather, focus on the benefits you expect to gain from pursuing the new opportunity on the side.
Explain how this side project will ultimately make you a more valuable employee by helping you develop new skills, relationships or thought processes. Cast yourself as having a growth mindset (see Carol Dweck’s classic book, Mindset). Help your boss understand that passion and initiative are good characteristics for you to have.
4. Team One
Assure your boss that you will not “cheat” on your primary role. At Chick-fil-A, we are often assigned to multiple teams (e.g., your functional team or a special project team). We assume that conflicts between teams will inevitably happen, so we always want to clarify which team takes priority. We call that team your “Team One.” Your primary role should still be with Team One at this point. Share with your boss the sacrifices you intend to make to ensure that Team One still rules.