Unfortunately, there’s no Tinder for job searching (yet anyway) meaning you can’t quickly swipe to see a three-sentence blurb and screenshot into what makes your could-be employer tick. If there’s not an app for it, it’s in your best interest to make a thorough investment into your relationship with your manager. Not only because they can make or break the success you reap in your role, but the more cohesively you work together, the more streamlined your projects and processes will be, helping you, your higher-up and the company reach their goals.
As career branding expert Wendi Weiner explains, “If you and your boss are not seeing eye-to-eye, then it can disrupt the productivity in the office which can also negatively impact the company’s profitability. If you and your boss are not on good terms, then your working relationship — and company presence — may be cut short.”
Without falling too deep into doomsday here, career experts give their best advice on how to foster this all-too-important connection so going to work is less dreadful and more, well, mutually beneficial:
Make yourself ‘pause’ before having an opinion
Even if your current role is one that’s inspiring and fulfilling, there are everyday tasks in each description that might seem trivial or unimportant to you. Perhaps your boss leans more heavily on the micromanaging mentality and insists you send daily progress reports. Or makes everyone file weekly data analyses that could be performed monthly.
Whatever instruction or deliverable makes you roll your eyes, Weiner suggests taking a ‘pause’ and falling the tried-and-true advice of putting yourself in that corner office. In other words: Try to be less subjective to their demands and more objective, to understanding the company’s goals as a whole, instead of zeroing in on your own priorities. “Step outside of your own comfort zone and ask how you can help your boss to improve his or her workflow. By putting the ball in your boss’ court to help you get involved in projects and opportunities, you will find that your boss appreciates your interest in being a problem-solver,” Weiner notes.
Challenge yourself to stop interrupting them
Your manager might be killer at roping in clients, fostering long-lasting contracts and bringing in new business, but when it comes to internal presentations? They might become far more long-winded and theoretical than you have time for. Career expert and coach Jennifer K. Hill encourages employees to give their boss some leeway by biting their tongue and allowing them to power through. You might feel empowered to cut to the chase — especially if you know where the meeting is headed — but what you might not understand, Hill notes, is they’re catering to everyone on the team, not just you. That’s why their sometimes-flowery, rose-colored language could hit the mark for you, but be just what your co-worker needs.
Another way you might be disruptive to your manager without realizing? By “popping in” for a “quick question” that will “only take a minute.” On the surface level it could seem proactive so you can go about your day, Hill says it has the opposite impact on your higher-up, who is wrangling other departments, tasks, and deadlines. “Many bosses who are responsible for managing one or more people often feel frustrated with the constant barrage of interruptions throughout their day,” she says. “A great way to create a more symbiotic relationship with your boss is to schedule specific times when you need to speak with your boss rather than just coming into their office at all hours of the day. This healthy boundary will create a more reciprocally respectful relationship with your boss.”
Prioritize face-to-face communication
Being offline once the clock strikes 6 p.m. (or 7 or 8)? Disconnected during your vacation to Southeast Asia or Eastern Europe? As if. As Weiner emphasizes, with a generation of overconnected, digitally nomadic workers, the primary means of communication in both personal and professional practices is via tech. Even at times when you’re meant to be away from your computer or email, more and more careers demand a different attitude.
But while checking-in with your manager and being available when they need you is a good idea, Weiner notes there’s nothing that can replace good ol’ fashioned face-to-face contact. “Things can often get lost in translation over email, particularly with the tone of voice. Approach your boss with set points to discuss and request an in-person meeting where you can be open and honest with one another about the gridlock that is impeding your work or relationship from being productive,” she suggests. “Be open to the feedback and be an active listener. Allow your boss to express his opinion and thoughts, and offer a solution to any problems or concerns he/she addresses.”
Determine their ‘why’
Though there’s no rhyme or reason to why your boss is a few decades older than you or a handful of years younger, it’s likely they entered your industry with a purpose. Impassioned to make a change, to excel like their parents did or to carve a career for themselves, Hill says making an effort to get to know your manager’s ‘why’ and what motivates them to success will connect you. “This can start by scheduling a time to speak with your boss about his or her vision for the company, and then delving deeper into what they are truly passionate about. Having a background of relatedness with your boss will help create a stronger rapport and a foundation for lasting success,” she explains.
Prove you always have their back
Of all the tactics you can employ to fall within the good graces of your manager, Hill says one of the most invaluable is being dependability. When there are opportunities for mobility within your team or company, your boss will intuitively think of the person they can depend on to follow-through on all meetings, assignments, and goals. “Being someone your boss can count on is something that will make you indispensable in your organization. Your boss will likely know your work product better than anyone else in your company,” she says.
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