In my last blog post, I talked about stepping aside for that new assistant who’s followed her manager to a new job. This is not good for you, especially if her manager’s new job is your manager’s old one. But it’s great that an assistant has such a good working relationship with her manager that they decide to stick together. It’s likely that the two of them have a mutually satisfying relationship that fosters professional and personal growth for both parties, because they have common interests and a common approach to life that bonds them.
You could have that too.
Set aside a daily snippet of time for conversation and catch-up – Dialogue won’t open up if there’s no time for it. Sit down with your manager and agree to meet for five or ten minutes at the beginning or end of every day, so you can cover topics that need to be addressed.
Share your enthusiasm with your manager – The best way to find out what someone else is all about is to share what makes you tick. If you spent all weekend at a flea market and came home with an antique radio that makes your heart soar, by all means, tell your manager all about it. It doesn’t have to be a long conversation; it just has to be a little glimpse of who you are. It’ll encourage reciprocation.
Set up the “every six months whether we need it or not” time out of the office – I’ve invoked this rule with several of my managers over the years. I want to get out with them in a social setting at least once every six months, so we can be ourselves and just talk about something other than work. Perhaps it’s dinner with the spouses along, or maybe it’s a relaxing lunch with a no-cell-phones rule. Whatever the plan, aim to get out of the work cage and run around in the wild for a little bit, so you can each see a different side of the other.
Ask her what she thinks – Whenever there’s a change at work or a new initiative, there’s something new to talk about. Ask your manager her opinion on different things that are going on in the office – perhaps you see things the same way and can find some common ground. If not, you can at least get a glimpse of her perspective.
It could be that you and your manager never find that sweet spot, and if not, that’s okay. You can still do your job or, if this is really important to you, head off and find someone new to support. But even if you have a little bit of appreciation for what motivates your manager to get up and go in the morning, you’ll find it easier to do your job for her. No one likes helping a jerk, but it’s easy to work hard for a manager you understand something about her on a deeper level.
Next Post: Wednesday, January 7