- Wise Words -
The "BIG 3": questions to ask
your new manager
by laney whitcanack
Getting off on the right foot with your manager is one of the most important parts of starting a new job (or getting a new manager in a current role!) - not just for the employee, but also for the employer.
Aligning expectations, clarifying communication preferences, and showing the willingness to go the extra mile all ensure that you not just survive but thrive in your first few months on the job. And the great thing is, you can do all three in the first day of with these three questions. Use them on day 1 and keep them in your professional tool belt:
1. "What does success look like for my role when we are sitting here six months from now? One year from now?" No one wants to think they are taking a flight to Italy and get off the plane in the Netherlands. This can be what it feels like if you get a job with expectations that aren't aligned with your manager. The biggest reasons I've seen that people fail in new jobs is because expectations aren't aligned. The person who hired you thinks you will do X, but you think your focus is Y. When X and Y don't align, you're in trouble and your manager can lose faith in you. You want to make sure you're both clear on the definition of success. Asking your new manager this question in the interview process, or in your first week of work will help make sure you're moving in the right direction.
2. "What is the best way for me to communicate with you and keep you posted on my progress?" Another way to ensure you have the full confidence and support of your manager is to make sure they feel in the loop. The last thing a manager wants to do is have to micro-manage their team members on progress. A very easy question you can ask in the early days of your new role is how your manager likes to get progress and questions - from asking about if they like memos or bullet points, to asking if they prefer texts, phone or emails and for what kind of information. It's much easier to get this right from the beginning versus calling your boss on the phone when they like texts and getting an annoyed response. An added bonus of this question is that your manager will feel like you are proactive in your own professionalism.
3. "Anything else I can do to be helpful today?' Nothing shows a new boss like you are in it to win it than asking what else can be done. This question communicates that you understand that you are part of a team and are bought in to the team's success, but also that you are someone who is willing to roll up their sleeves and lend a hand to get things done. Nine times out of ten, your manager will say that there is nothing to do - but don't doubt that the question is a reminder to them that you are someone who is ready for action and eager to go the extra mile on behalf of your manager and your organization's success.
Three simple questions with three big benefits - aligning expectations, clarifying communication, and lending a helping hand. Good luck in your new role - with these inquiries, you're on your way to thriving in your new job or when you get a new manager at your current company.
For more on managing your relationship with your manager see: "Partnering With Your Manager" and "Manage Up to Move Up".