When most of you started your professional journeys you likely thought your most important responsibility was managing yourself and your work tasks. Over time, the most successful among you learned managing your manager had a much bigger impact on career success.
Trying to talk to your boss can be intimidating, uncomfortable and awkward. But if you know the right way to approach your manager, you can not only survive the conversation, you can thrive in your workplace.
Effective communication with your manager is critical for a number of reasons. If you want to ask for a raise or get support for a new project or initiative, communicating effectively increases your chances of success.
How to have an effective conversation with your manager
Be Respectful of Your Manager's Time
If you don't know your boss' schedule, you risk approaching her when she's not receptive. There are times when she's more stressed and times when she's more relaxed, so focus on talking with her at her convenience. Pay attention to her signals and respect her time boundaries.
Haven't you had this happen? You're racing out of your office, late for a meeting and somebody stops by to 'ask a quick question'. You explain tactfully that you don't have a minute, but they don't listen to you and keep pushing forward. How does that taste? You could care less what they're saying because you don't have time to listen. If they are asking a question, they are likely to get a no. Don't be that person.
Be Prepared to Keep Emotions Under Control
Don't walk into an 'asking' conversation cold. An asking conversation is when you want something specific--a new position, additional staff, time off, etc. If you are emotional about your request, rehearse the conversation. Think about how your manager might respond and think through how those responses could make you feel.
The key here is not to just walk through getting exactly what you want. What if your judgment is questioned? What if the answer is no? I am not telling you to plan to fail, I am asking you to be professional and consider all the possibilities. Thinking about the results that might make you emotional gives you a chance to experience those emotions in private BEFORE you talk to your manager. You are not a robot, emotions are part of life, but you can choose where to have an emotional response to the subject.
Stay Abreast of Industry Trends
One way to get your boss' attention is to know what's going on in your industry. Staying knowledgeable can help you get ahead and make your conversation with your boss more impressive. And, your boss is more likely to remember the conversation in a positive way.
Ways to stay up-to-date with industry trends include:
Reading industry trade magazines
Talking with others in the same profession
Attending conferences and listening to speakers
Keeping up with the news
Develop Good Communication Before You 'Need' It
Everything about how you communicate with others illustrates who you are and your feelings about them and yourself. When it comes to managing your manager, your voice, speech, and word choice demonstrate how well you get along with others. Learn to take advantage of strong communication skills to demonstrate your competence and confidence.
When communicating with your manager:
Use the tone of your voice to show self-assurance. Maintaining a pleasant tone of voice, even in stressful situations, shows that you can handle pressure. A calm tone will make you appear much more confident.
Choose your volume wisely. Projecting too loudly is never a good look at work. Sometimes we raise our voices if we're afraid we won't be...