Last week we talked about how the process of asking for the money, promotion or opportunity starts far sooner than you thought. It’s almost as if no sooner do you get what you asked for (pay rise, new job) that you need to start thinking about your next milestone!

To an extent this is true, however I am a firm believer in enjoying the journey as much as the destination. Therefore, I would recommend you’re always clear of the destination (second & third priorities from last week – your career progression & earning capacity) and you enjoy the journey as much as possible, (first priority from last week – your career development) because true and fulfilling success is as much about who you are, as what you do.

This is why in this week’s topic, starting as you mean to go on by setting expectations for both you and your manager is essential, and as discussed last week, you have to be the one following up; not only on what you said you’d do, but also what your manager said they would do too.

Usually, when I say this, there’s a sharp intake of breath and a nervous question. ‘I have to follow up with my manager?’

Yes, you do. But before we get to how you do this, let’s talk about setting expectations that move you and your manager forward in delivering what the organisation needs to the satisfaction of all concerned.

Relationships between managers and employees can be heavenly or hellish. Statistics state most employees leave their employment because of their managers. To me, this is a tragedy and underlines that we are still falling short of educating and coaches our managers to be managers and leaders. Having been a manager for over 15 years in the corporate world, managing a team of one to almost forty, I learnt how to be a manager and leader from my managers (the good ones) plus some amazing education along the way.

There are a number of factors to building a highly successful relationship with your manager, one of which being the personality of your manager themselves (that’s a topic for another segment) to the extent you can set expectations and follow up without feeling like you’ve become a school teacher!

So, how do you do this?

Firstly, remember your manager is a human being (even if they don’t give that impression!) who wants to succeed, be outstanding in what he/she does and make a difference in the work they do. Just like you.

Next, as you’re thinking about sitting down with them either for your first meeting in a new job or a first meeting in a current role (because you haven’t sat down with them before, or in a long while) think about how what you do in your role truly feeds into what they do, and how you can help them do it better in the short, medium and long term. The aim here is to brainstorm ways of helping to make their life (& yours in the long run) easier, as you plan your strategic career journey in this role (with an eye to the next milestone).

Thirdly, once you’ve had some thoughts about these, ask your manager to book in a time to meet with you, letting them know briefly why, and YOU book the meeting in their diary, sending them any material as you see fit.

In the meeting, begin by sharing the information below, ensuring your language is always inclusive and collaborative, and at the end, simply ask if this is agreeable to them? Not whether it’s okay (you’re not asking for permission), you’re just checking in to see if there’s anything they’d like to add? Share:

  • Why you requested the meeting
  • What you’d like to discuss*
  • The outcomes for both you hope to walk away with.
  • *In this first meeting, the kinds of topics you might want to discuss could include:
  • Shared goals – yours & theirs
  • Their views on these shared goals in depth (they may have strong views on how they work etc. you want to know this)
  • How you work best (educate them on how you like to work and be managed)
  • What you’re hoping to achieve in alignment to their goals (opportunity to check in and see if they agree)
  • Discussion on how you two will work together – this is critical and you must discuss and agree how you will work together to deliver on the shared goals, because you see this as a ‘team’ effort
  • How often you’d like to meet with them*
  • How you will both follow up with each other in your meetings
  • Thank them for the meeting and their time, let them know you’ll be booking in the next meeting & make sure you follow up and through.

*This is the clincher. I highly recommend this is the one objective of this meeting you must achieve, because the more you meet and talk to your manager, the more opportunity you have to build a relationship and most importantly, talk about what you’ve accomplished and how you are intending on delivering the remainder of your goals. Seed all conversations about how amazing you are in your own sweet, subtle way! 😉

By talking openly in this way at the first meeting, you get a feel for your manager and them, for you. In the next meeting you can make any changes as you see fit for it to be better. If your manager likes short, sharp meetings, keep them short and sharp. Adapt to them, ensuring it also works for you, because at the end of the day, this is a two-way street, and your ability to speak up and articulate what is important to you is vital in being productive and fulfilled.

Your ability to set and manage expectations – of what you will do and what your manager has agreed he/she will do – and then follow up on them, lets the other party know you take full ownership and accountability for yourself and for asking them where they’re at. In this, you must be brave, dignified and respectful. You both have a vested interest in the success of the other, so let’s play the game where we focus on both of us winning.

Till next time,

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