Monday, September 24, 2012

Five Questions to Make Your Relationship with Your Boss Stronger

It goes without saying that relationships at work are important, but - arguably - the most important relationship you will have is that with your supervisor. Studies have found that a positive relationship with your supervisor can decrease work exhaustion and increase satisfaction. Further, a Gallup poll found that one of the biggest factors leading to someone quitting a position is the relationship with his/her supervisor. 

Given the importance of the supervisor/supervisee dynamic, what can workers do to strengthen this relationship? Simply letting it unfold without any direction, intervention, or intentionality is not a good idea: creative opportunities can be missed, communication styles can be misinterpreted, expectations can be misaligned, and both parties can fail to feel valued by the other.

Take the initiative to design a strong relationship with your supervisor. When you first start in a position, set up a meeting and delve into these five important questions:

How do you prefer to communicate? Some supervisors are upfront, some supervisors are more indirect. Learning about and understanding how your supervisor communicates can significantly strengthen  your relationship as it can lead to a better level of understanding between the two of you. You can further expand this question to learn how your supervisor likes to have information delivered: phone, email, or quick stop-ins in his/her office.

What are our work priorities right now? This question may seem apparent, but - rest assured - misaligned priorities occur frequently in the workplace. Use this question to get clear on where to focus your time and what your deliverables should be.

What feedback do you have for me? Keeping feedback as a constant agenda item every time you meet will create an expectation that you want to know how you are doing and that your supervisor's feedback is important to you. 

What aspects of office/department culture should I be aware of? Asking this question will clue you in to things such as busy times of the year, how to work with other departments, insights about creating relationships with coworkers, and other important components that will affect your job satisfaction and how you work.

How can I help right now? The thrust of this question is immediacy, demonstrating initiative and focus. Ask this, and then deliver to the best of your ability.

There are more questions than are listed here, but this is a concise start. Do not take for granted your relationship with your supervisor; be proactive and direct it productively and with purpose.

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