Without brown nosing
Of all of the workplace relationships that it’s important to cultivate, the one that you’ll want to make the strongest from the beginning is between you and your supervisor.
Especially if you’re new to the organization, it’s always a good idea to ensure that you are simpatico with the person who determines not only if you’ll get to stay at that great job, but also controls many of the elements of making that job a joy or a drudgery to go to each day.
You’ve got the power
So, how do you quickly build a positive relationship with your boss without seeming unctuous or insincere?
If you’re still in the interview phase, start by realizing that you have power. Whether at the very beginning or at the finalist stage, now’s as good of a time as any to use it.
You should be interviewing the organization and your prospective manager just as much as they’re interviewing you.
A certain amount of tact and discretion is needed in how you do so. Ask questions that provide you an insight into how your soon-to-be boss likes to communicate and how they manage their direct reports.
Some prefer quick texts and give their teams a wide degree of autonomy handling operational tasks. Others may want twice-daily stand-up meetings that are exercises in reviewing things to the smallest detail. Knowing what the expectations are in advance can help you adapt to their styles, or provide you with the understanding that your respective styles are too disparate for you to be happy there, no matter how great the job seems.
Getting personal (professionally)
Once aboard, try to get to know your manager on a “professionally personal” level. Understanding their professional journey (which you can see through their LinkedIn profile and other similar tools) gives you insight into the lenses through which they view their own roles, as well as gives you some things to talk about as you get to know one another. Very few individuals sincerely don’t like talking about themselves, and your manager is no different.
When you do begin to get to know one another well, professionally, avoid the temptation to become a sycophant in an attempt to gain their favor. It often doesn’t work, and when it fails, it fails badly, leaving a bad taste in your manager’s mouth as to who you really might be at your core.
We all want to be liked for who we are and what we bring to the table, so excessive flattery is just that — excessive.
Timing is everything
Temper the attempt to get to know your boss better to times and ways in which they can give you their full attention. It’s likely that she may have many other responsibilities and calls to action placed on her at the time of your hire. She may not have the opportunity to give you as much face-to face time initially as you (or she) may like.
Understanding your supervisor also means learning the competing priorities on their plate, the results they’re expected to achieve, and what your role is in accomplishing those.
You were brought on board for a purpose, and you’ve got the expertise to contribute to help the organization, so don’t sell yourself short. Your boss may well be excited by a new hire that understands what priorities and expectations the company is facing, and has an idea of how they can quickly help achieve them.
When you do have the opportunity to contribute, don’t be afraid to let your boss know the challenges to implementation that you or she may face. When launching a project or resolving a long-standing issue, feel free to bring not only the problem, but a solution forward. Even if your boss doesn’t accept your proposed solution, the conversation you have gives you good insight into the challenges of your new role.
Speaking of that new role, spend as much time as you can going beyond the onboarding efforts prescribed by the company. Learn the ins-and-outs of your job description, what it really is in practice, and your day-to-day expectations. Navigating all of that on your own isn’t advisable. Take advantage of either an assigned mentor or find one on your own who can help you successfully do what you were hired to do
Your manager will have a much better impression of you if they see you as someone who works hard to do the right thing.
Your boss is invested in your success. After all, they’re the one that identified you as the right fit for the position after going through the expense of recruiting and onboarding you. They want to see you succeed. By getting to know them, how they operate and communicate, and what’s important to them, you can begin to provide a return on that investment quickly.