When starting a new job, agreeing on several basic processes with your boss will help you set yourself up for success.
This is the second episode about how to start a job in an ongoing series of … two. In Part 1 we discovered that bosses have motivations. And since your boss is the person who will raise you to grand heights or condemn you to eternal workplace torment, you’d better understand what drives your boss and make sure you’re fulfilling your boss’s underlying motivations..
There’s more to your job than simply fulfilling your boss’s motivational needs, however.
Know How to Give and Receive Feedback
Yes, you need to make sure you’re meeting your boss’s needs. You also need to manage their expectations. You need to communicate about what’s important.
And when you’re thinking about how to start a job, what could be more important than blaming, judging, and scapegoating? At home, we call that a “family gathering.” At work, we call it “giving and receiving feedback.” Most companies have an annual review policy, where your boss – who has been given no training ever in how to evaluate another person’s performance – judges you and tells you what you have to change for the upcoming year. It’s like a co-dependent relationship, but you don’t even get any nookie.
The problem is that an annual review only comes once a year. If you start displeasing your boss, it might be 11 months before you find out. And then, you’ll find out by being passed over for a promotion. Not good.
Early on, have a feedback discussion with your boss. Come to an agreement on the feedback preferences that work for you both:
How often do you like to receive feedback?
How often do they like to give it?
How sensitive are you to bluntness?
Should your boss give unsolicited feedback, or do you want to initiate?
If you want to initiate it, how often, and is your boss OK with that?
If your boss doesn’t care about these things, watch out! That shows they probably have poor people skills, which may well translate into poor ability to judge your performance.
Know How (or if!) to Raise Disagreements
The feedback question has to do with how your boss gives you feedback. But there will be times when you disagree with your boss. Ask your boss what you should do in those situations as well.
Should you ignore the disagreement and simply submit to your boss’s will? A boss I once had made it clear: Input was welcome early in a decision, but once the decision was made, disagreement and feedback was not welcome.
Should you raise the issue during the decision-making process? If decisions get made in group settings, or if your boss consults with you one-on-one about a decision, should you share reservations and disagreements with your boss?
How to Self-Promote
Lastly, ask your boss how you can best keep them apprised of your progress. This is a delicate question, because it does double duty. Yes, your boss may want to know about your progress. But more sneakily, you want your boss to know about your progress. You’re essentially asking your boss how you can self-promote without being a jerk.
You won’t get promoted unless your boss is aware of your accomplishments. You’re just asking how to make that happen. This IS far more important than you think. If you spend your time head down, doing your work, your boss may not notice you, precisely because you’re doing so well. The screwups require time and attention, but when you do well, it can be easy for bosses not to notice.
Find Out How Decisions Really Get Made
Your boss may be your 800-pound gorilla, but there are other people who matter. In large companies – of two people or more – decisions often involve multiple 95-pound gorillas in multiple departments.
As you familiarize yourself with your new company’s products, culture, and markets, find out what decisions you’ll be involved in and who else will be involved. Talk to them, and get a sense for how the decisions get made. Are decisions consensus-based? Are they made the same way every time, or do different people get involved? Whose opinions are especially valued? They may be a center of influence for really getting stuff done. The person with the impressive title, however, may be relatively powerless.
Although we live in a mythical land of meritocracy, the reality is that the smartest, most capable person in the room – that would be you – still has to convince everyone else involved in a decision of the right course of action. Knowing who to convince and how will help get you listened to when the stakes are high and you want to make sure you are the one who wins.
Starting a new job is a happy-go-lucky endeavor, and it’s easy to assume everything will work out as smoothly as it did during your interview. But you can take action to help ensure things work smoothly. Make sure you and your boss agree on how you like feedback. Know how to disagree with your boss. Put a self-promotion mechanism in place so your accomplishments get recognized. And suss out how decisions get made, so you can accumulate great power, take over the company, and then hire me as your coach and consultant. My fees are quite reasonable, by Fortune 50 standards.
This is Stever Robbins. You can find this episode’s transcript at getitdone.quickanddirtytips.com
I’m an executive coach who helps top executives develop people policies that bring out the best in their team members. This January, join me for a webinar to learn from your past year and plan for your next year to be awesome. If you want to know more, visit http://www.SteverRobbins.com/newyears.
Work Less, Do More, and have a Great Life!
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