Monday, April 15, 2013

Five questions toward a stronger relationship with your boss

To trust and to be trusted are critical components of organizational and personal success. And while trust in the workplace is on the rise, you should remain vigilant of the level of trust in your relationship with your supervisor. 

Clear, simple communication is essential to build a relationship of trust. To begin a supervisory relationship the right way or to fine-tune one that has already been established, use the questions below:

What expectations do you have for me in the short-term and long-term? A basic yet essential question to get both you and your supervisor on the same page. This question prompts a discussion on what is (and is not) important in your work and what priorities need to be established. 

What methods do you prefer I use to communicate with you? Be upfront and ask how your supervisor would like to receive information from you: short or long phone calls, short or long emails, in-person meetings or through other means or outputs. Indicating to your supervisor that you respect her time and tailoring how you communicate with her will greatly further a relationship of trust.

What can I do to make your job easier? Even though you may be clear about expectations, there could be other ways that you can help out your supervisor...and shine in the process. For example, if your boss isn't as technologically savvy as you are, perhaps you could provide a quick lesson on more advanced functions of Outlook or keyboard shortcuts in Word. Your boss will appreciate your initiative and the assistance you are providing. Remain vigilant of opportunities such as this and offer help where you can; the trust you build will be a reward in and of itself.

What if we...? The significance of this question can be summed up in one word: solutions. Don't just bring problems to your supervisor but suggest solutions to those issues. Employees tend to shy away from solutions (particularly out-of-the-box ones) for fear of looking foolish. Do not fall into this trap: supervisors are looking for creativity in the output you deliver and would not have hired you if they did not want to leverage your talents and insights. Build trust through your creativity and initiative.

In what areas would you like me to improve? Do not wait until your annual review before you ask this question. Stay abreast of areas of improvement and listen to your supervisor's suggestions with an open-mind and willingness to do your work differently. If you have questions or if something does not sit right with you, bring them up respectfully. But your willingness to invite and receive feedback will most certainly strengthen the trust in your relationship.

Use these questions to create a strong, trusting dynamic between you and your supervisor, and role model this behavior to others. 

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