Your relationship with your boss is probably the most crucial you have in terms of impact on your career progression. It also affects how you feel about your job, your employer – and yourself – as you head out the door at the end of the day. Yet, whilst we can usually see the benefits in learning how to manage the people we’re responsible for, it’s surprising how often the relationship with the boss is overlooked.
A few tips to help make the most of this important professional relationship:
1. Have an honest conversation about how they want to work with you, such as what they appreciate and value – and what really winds them up. Some managers may want a constant stream of updates; others will want a pithy summary once a day or once a week. You’ll need to adapt to their preferences, within reason (the M.D. who sends 11pm emails can’t really expect an instant answer, can they?)
2. Notice how they prefer to communicate – via email, text, talking on the phone or face to face. Again, you may need to adapt to their preferences, and they may not be the ones that come naturally to you.
3. Have a regular 1:1. Ideally this will be face to face, and at a regular interval, such as monthly. The agenda is how you’re doing, areas of strength, areas for development, feedback on performance and goals going forward. If you manage a team of people, the agenda will need to expand so you can discuss how they’re progressing and anything you need the boss to know. All the better if there’s room and encouragement for you to give some feedback too.
4. Respect their time. Prepare for discussions and meetings with your manager, notes and questions at the ready. It’s not a good idea to spray them with random unrelated updates and occurrences. If you had to edit down to the 5 things they absolutely must know, what would they be?