Want to connect with your manager? Then you need to make yourself known.
Your manager is a busy person with a million things going on. So how do you connect with your manager in a genuine and productive way—especially when everyone else in the office is also trying to connect with them?
One thing is clear: you cannot be passive.
If you want to connect with your manager, you can’t just do your work in the background and hope that they’ll notice you. In an ideal world, we’d all get our due and be recognized for our efforts. But the reality is that everything and everyone's competing for your manager’s attention. You have to get on your boss’s radar by actively finding ways to engage them and becoming an indispensable member of their team.
Have a plan for one-on-one meetings
If you don’t have one-on-one meetings with your boss, you’ll want to get them on the calendar soon.
Depending on how busy your boss is, your one-on-one meetings might last an hour or only five minutes. Either way, make sure to use your time wisely.
Have an objective in mind. You could always use your one-on-one to simply share status updates—but why not turn it into something more? Maximize your meetings by having a clear objective in mind. Do you want to share a project win? Ask for advice? Get your boss’s approval on an important initiative? Have a clear meeting objective and you will transform your one-on-ones from a run-of-the-mill meeting to one that is dynamic and engaging.
Have your elevator pitch ready. In line with your meeting objective, make sure that you prepare what you’re going to say and how you’re going to say it. For example, if you only have five minutes with your boss, make those minutes count. You’ll want your pitch to be clear and concise. Or if you have an hour with your boss, gather a sufficient amount of data to support your ask.
Turn your meeting into a learning opportunity. Use this meeting as a chance to get invaluable feedback from your manager. Even if the feedback isn’t glowing, at least you’ll learn how to perform better the next time around.
Here are different questions you can ask to get your manager’s feedback:
Do you have any thoughts on X project?
Is there anything you would’ve done differently?
What did you think about my approach to X?
Do you have any tips on how I can do better moving forward?
And when you get your manager’s advice? Make sure to actually take it. So many people ask for advice but not a lot of people follow through on it. Update your boss on how you’ve been improving. This will get your boss to be invested in your career and your progress.
Help your boss achieve their goals and priorities
So you want to get traction on your goals and move ahead in your career. But if you really want to go far, think about how you can help your manager reach their goals and priorities.
Remember: your boss has goals they want to achieve. They also have a manager that they’re reporting to and trying to impress. If you can help your boss look good, you will make yourself look good as well.
And if your manager has limited time, then the best way to get their ear is to offer ways to help them.
Here’s how to do it.
Identify your company’s overarching goals. Educate yourself on your company’s big goals. Read your company’s annual report and strategic plan. Attend company wide meetings and capture the important details. This will help you see the bigger picture and better understand the context of your boss’s goals.
Learn what’s new at your company. Read press releases. Stay on top of industry trends. Learn the names of new colleagues and stakeholders. Keep abreast of what’s going on at the office because chances are these changes are going to affect your boss.
Make a list of actions you can take. Now that you have a better understanding of your boss’s goals, you’ll want to make sure that your work is in support of them.
- Your manager wants to build more partnerships.
- How to help: Do some research and make a list of companies/brands that your manager would want to team up with. Bonus if it includes companies that might not be on your manager’s radar.
- Your manager wants a high-profile event to be well-attended.
- How to help: Brainstorm ways to publicize the event; invite everyone you know and tell them to bring ten more people.
Utilize your unique skills. Maybe you’re the only person at the office who knows their way around TikTok. Or you love The Moth podcast and you understand what makes a good story. These are all unique skills that you can bring to the table. So if your manager wants to increase the company’s social media presence, offer your insight. If your manager wants to use storytelling in their marketing strategy, help out. Your unique skills make you indispensable.
If you can support your boss in actualizing their goals, you will be seen as someone they can rely on and trust.
Who does your boss admire?
Another way to connect with your boss is to find out who your boss is connecting with. In other words, who does your boss admire?
The go-to players. These are the people in your office that your manager can always count on. Your manager goes to them for advice or to steer an important project. What do these people have in common? Maybe your manager admires their tenacity or their can-do attitude. Identify the common traits and behaviors and try to emulate them.
The challengers. It’s also important to take note of people who don’t just tell your manager what they want to hear. These are the colleagues who take an opposing view—and successfully change your manager’s mind. It takes skill to challenge the opinion of someone who’s more senior and well-respected. Study the people in your organization who do this well. How do they support their arguments? How do they phrase their viewpoints?
By aligning your work with your manager’s goals, and by staying attuned to what’s going on in the workplace, you can forge a connection with your manager that is built on mutual trust and respect.
Written by JiJi Lee.