No matter where you work, you report to someone – maybe even to two or three bosses. And whether you think your boss is brilliant or a bore, the fact is that you have to manage the relationship with your boss if you want to advance your career.
Many of us give little thought to managing our supervisors. We do so at our own peril. Supervisors can have a lot of influence over our success in a job and our long-term career plans. Supervisor recommendations carry a lot of weight when it comes to decisions about raises, promotions, training resources and even job references. Why then do we fail to develop positive work relationships with our supervisors?
In the past, the supervisor-employee relationship has been view as one-way, with the supervisor as boss and the employee subservient to their authority. It is better to view the relationship as a partnership involving mutual dependence. Supervisors need the contributions of subordinates, just as subordinates require support and resources from supervisors. Both parties need to co-operate in order to fulfil requirements and achieve goals.
Why do so many employees try to stay out of the way of supervisors and avoid their notice? Surveys indicate, more than 50 per cent of employees list relationships with immediate supervisors as the worst aspect of their job. Sure, there are poor supervisors, just as there are poor employees. However, both employees and supervisors are responsible for creating effective working relationships.
Develop positive working relationships
Employees, consider your immediate supervisor as an important internal customers. Ask yourself, what does my supervisor needs from me? What is the preferred work style of my supervisor? What kind of environment does my supervisor work in and what pressures do they experience?
What does your supervisor expect of you? Use this information to guide and build your interactions. Remember, supervisors are busy people with many demands placed on them. Make good use of their time and resources.
The workplace is fast-paced; it’s smart to take the intiative. Don’t wait for your supervisor to give detailed directions. Instead, show initiative, demonstrate sound judgment and ask questions. Ask your supervisor for feedback and act on the feedback. Most supervisors appreciate the participation of employees in company work activities. For example, participate in meetings, volunteer to sit on important committees and welcome delegated tasks as a way to increase your skills.
You create good working relationships with your supervisor by acting professionally. Meet work deadlines and keep your supervisor informed about accomplishments and problems. Be honest and don’t agree to do things if you have no intention of following through on them.
The workplace requires you keep up-to-date about developments in your field and improve your work skills through ongoing learning. Avoid the temptation of becoming a superhero, working solo for long hours with excessive overtime. These behaviours can have negative effects on your family and volunteer activities. Learn instead to become a team player and to strike a good balance between work and family responsibilities.
Growth requires change. Supervisors appreciate employees that are resourceful. Be creative, share ideas and develop problem-solving skills. Have Plan B on standby, in case Plan A doesn’t yield the outcome measures or standards required.
Flexibility is a worker’s key asset. Practise time management skills and schedule time each week for networking. Know who you can call for help when you need it. Supervisors are looking for self-motivated individuals who are interested in more than financial rewards alone.
The choice is yours
Supervisors can be an advocate or an adversary. The choice is largely up to you. The relationship you develop with your supervisor should not be left to chance. Learn to manage your supervisor by taking initiative, being professional and resourceful. Treat your supervisor as your most important internal customer and offer exceptional customer service. Doing so will enhance your employability skills and increase your marketability.
One only has to pay attention to the news to know there are still a lot of people looking for employment. Unfortunately, the factors which lead to their unemployment have reduced the number of jobs available. If you’re out there looking for work, you know how much competition there is for each job.
You’ve landed an interview. You’re nervous and inventing “what if” scenarios. With these 4 P’s, you’ll increase your chances of a successful interview.
Preparation is the first step toward a good interview. It takes time and work, but it’s crucial. Assess yourself to identify the skills you have to contribute to a company and job. Take stock, by listing on paper, your:
- skills and competencies
- values and needs
- personal characteristics.
Knowing your profile and what you want will give you more confidence and demonstrate to the interviewer you are purposeful and reflective—skills employers want employees to have.
Know the company
Learn all you can about the company you want to work for and the position you’ve applied for:
- Call or visit the company and ask for information: brochures, the latest annual report, the goals and direction of the company, and other publications that might be useful. Look for a company website—your might get all the information there.
- Find out the company’s vision and mission statement. You’ll get a feeling for how the company operates and how it sees its employees.
- Be sure you know what the position requires. Ask the human resources department for a job description or find out more about the job from another worker in the company. Find someone who does similar work.
Knowing this information will show you’re interested in the company and motivated about the job qualities employers look for.
Know your contribution
With research done, you’re ready to anticipate questions you might be asked. Remember, the employer is trying to find out three things: can you do the job, will you do the job and will you fit the company’s style. Keep those things in mind during your interview and take opportunities to demonstrate how you will meet them. Here are some tips to help you prepare:
- Create a master list of accomplishments from your work, leisure and volunteer activities and include the results achieved.
- Review your accomplishments. Which are key to the position’s needs?
- Write down questions an interviewer might ask. Put yourself in the interviewer’s shoes and think about what you would like a potential candidate to answer.
- Tap your memory for stories that illustrate your skills and successes. Use the Situation, Action and Result (SAR) formula. For example, you saw a problem in the manufacture of a product and you took the initiative to find a way to solve it, or you worked on or managed a difficult project. Using SAR, describe the situation, explain your approach and describe the results.
Employers want to know what your track record is in achieving results and how you will contribute to successful outcomes.
Practice, practice, practice. Practice what you’re going to say and how you will say it. Use video or audio tape to see and hear how you perform.
Don’t memorize questions and answers. Instead, develop key points, based on the preparation step, that you want the interviewer to know about you. These key points can be used to respond to a variety of questions. Get someone to help by role-playing an interview scenario.
It’s important that you ask relevant questions during the interview. Make a list of three or four things you want to know about the position or the company. (Make sure these are questions you wouldn’t be expected to already know from your research.)
The employer wants to know how you communicate and wants to hear how your skills, knowledge and expertise match the needs of the position.
This step is all about how to act in the interview.
- Are you fully involved? Do you appear to be motivated? Are you enthusiastic about the opportunity? Are you on your best behaviour?
- Sit with good posture, leaning slightly forward to show interest. Body language is important.
- Your tone of voice is key to communicating participation and perspective.
- Make good eye contact—interviewers will expect you look them in the eye with confidence.
- Watch the interviewer’s body language and expressions for keys to how you’re doing. Mirror some of the interviewer’s body language.
- Listen closely to the questions so you can answer them accurately.
- Be direct. Don’t ramble or go off topic.
- Take time to think before you respond.
Give your utmost attention to the interview and the interviewer—this tells the employer you are dedicated to your commitments.
Most people feel anxious when going on a job interview. You can choose to be positive and confident, even if you are nervous. It’s up to you. If you were the interviewer, what attitude would you prefer to see in a potential candidate?
Think of the interview as simply a meeting in which two parties are trying to find information which benefits each. This could decrease your anxiety levels. The employer wants to know if you can do the job, if you will do the job, and if you will fit into the organization, but it’s not a one-way exercise. You’re also trying to figure out if this is the type of organization where you want to use your skills and knowledge.
Your attitude is crucial to show the employer you are responsible to make your own choices.
Make your interview a positive and successful learning experience. By using the 4 P’s you might even enjoy the experience.