“Because answers exist only to questions…”
– Mungara Tarou Krishnamurti
Meeting with your manager only when he/she needs something, or when you need to run something by them does not cultivate a relationship. However, having frequent conversations with your manager can create an environment of open communication and trust.
What you may not know is that communication begins with you! I know what you’re thinking; How can I meet with my manager if they’re always busy? How do I approach scheduling time with them? What am I supposed to talk about?
These are all great questions!
Meeting with your manager does NOT always need to formal. Talk over a walk for coffee or while you’re grabbing a quick bite to eat. Having these informal visits makes for a relaxed, comfortable discussion for both of you.
To get this time scheduled, swing by their office and ask if they would be willing to grab coffee/lunch with you next week. By giving them plenty of time in advance to prepare their schedule, they will be far more likely to agree to go. Be sure to block time on their calendar if they do agree!
When you’re meeting with your manager, be sure to ask them these two questions:
What can I help you with?
Asking this question shows that you are a team player, you have an internal drive to help, and that you support him/her so they can be successful as well.
Your manager most likely has a lot going on, so having someone show they are willing to help can make all the difference. Wouldn’t it for you? Show your support by rolling up your sleeves and knocking out the tasks that have been bogging them down.
Is there anything I need to improve (performance, behaviors, culture)?
You don’t need to ask your manager this question every time you meet. In fact, don’t. But you do need to ask them at least twice a year. If you are a newer employee asking this question more often is appropriate since you are still getting acclimated to the company’s expectations.
By asking this question, you are demonstrating that you are seeking to continuously improve and that you are not above feedback. If your manager says there is something you can improve upon, thank them for their response! 9 times of 10, your manager is looking to help you, not hurt you. Act upon the feedback you receive and seek to improve.
Here are some ideas of meetings I suggest you schedule with your manager regularly:
- One-on-Ones either weekly or biweekly
- Lunch meeting every other month
- 20-minute walking meetings
- Coffee breaks
You don’t need to schedule all of these! Just start with one and see if there is a need for additional meet-ups.