Things You Should Be Asking Your Boss In Your 1:1

You finally scored a one-on-one meeting with your manager. Now’s your big chance to advance your career. Don’t blow it by being tongue-tied.

Actually, it’s OK to be tongue-tied in the beginning. That’s when you listen to what your boss has to say. Take notes so you’ll remember later.

After your boss says her piece, don’t move toward the door. It’s your turn to ask questions.

“We can ignore the direct way because we’re so busy second-guessing, dropping hints or too frightened to imagine that we can negotiate our expectations,” says psychologist Meredith Fuller author of Working with Bitches. “Sometimes we may assume that ‘trusting no one’ especially our manager is smart and will prevent us from being hurt or humiliated. Sometimes we are unaccustomed to having an alliance, or talking about personal aspects. We may be fearful of acknowledging our needs or blind spots.”

You may be a little afraid but the potential pay-off for mastering your fears is big. Asking the right questions can help you become a better, more valuable and maybe even better-paid employee.
 
Start with how you can meet your boss’s needs. One key question, Fuller says, is: ‘What are the important skills behaviors, attitudes and values that you require most from me in our relationship?’ You may already have those skills, values and attitudes—now you’ve been given a green light to show the off to your boss.

The behaviors he’s looking for may be relatively easy to accomplish, now that you know what they are. Your boss may expect to be updated on every step of a project or may not want to hear from you unless you run into problems. Your boss, or editor, may expect you to meet an exact word count for this story or may be flexible if you run over as long as you have something important to say.

You can also ask your boss if any of your behaviors are off-putting. Your gum may be a bigger turn-off than the bad breath you’re trying to avoid. Or vice versa. He may be open to questions in the afternoon but prefer not to be interrupted in the morning.

Another good question for your boss is: ‘How can I help you succeed?’ “Being self-aware is career-expanding and being able to assist your manager to shine is smart,” Fuller says. “To do that, we need to demonstrate insight, understand that transparency of communication is a tool that can help us feel safe and have trust in a direct report system, and appreciate the best and simplest way forward for a win-win.”

Now let your boss know how you work best. “For example, ‘I produce my best work when I understand the big picture and get engaged with questions about what could go wrong and how we might prevent that,’” Fuller says.

This one takes true courage: “’I don’t do my best work when I am micro-managed but I like to be trusted to come to you if I am experiencing some difficulty.’”

Or spin yourself. Waits until the last minute and thrives on adrenaline becomes, in Fuller’s words, “’I am pressure-prompted so I need to allow my assignments to percolate and then I find my output and goal attainment comes in bursts towards the last weeks or days rather than in steady increments.’”

Overall, the goal of your one-on-one is good communication. That and a good raise.

“Clear, open communication where we remain curious and receptive about ourselves and others is a fantastic tool for best practice interactions, relationships and achievements,” Fuller says.

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