In life, you go through innumerable engagements. I don’t mean the one which involves that certain ring finger. I’m referring to the engagements that you carry out every day, such as those with your co-workers or the one with your barista. These daily engagements vary in scope, and range in intensity from the casual to the familiar.
But aside from the way you engage with your family and close friends, the one person you engage with that can have the most impact on your life is your manager.
It’s a no-brainer, right? You spend more waking hours at work than you do with your family. In many cases, your manager makes independent decisions on your vacation time, your business travel, and your income. All of which means that your manager can potentially have more control over your well being than anyone else in your life.
Don’t despair. There are ways to get that perceived control back while positively impacting your career.
One of those ways is to strategically engage your manager.
But what steps should you take to achieve this? More importantly, how can you use your relationship with your manager to not only strategically position yourself within the company, but also execute your own innovations to demonstrate your engagement?
Here are 8 easy ways to execute workplace engagement and help your manager help your career.
- Get to know them: This goes beyond learning the names of their spouse, children, and favourite sports team. When you know someone – really know someone – you get familiar with what makes them tick. You know how to speak to them, and how they will react to what you say long before you say it. In the long run, you’ll know exactly what they need to hear to make them happy, or ease their concerns during a crisis. You’ll also get a sense of their work style, so you can tailor your own to complement theirs.
- Ask for feedback: People in power love to share their opinions. And they’ve earned that right, haven’t they? The organization must have thought so, or they wouldn’t be there. Part of a manager’s duties is to mentor you. Give them the chance. They’ll be pleased that you’re not afraid to ask questions and are willing perform tasks to their specifications.
- Watch your language: This applies to both verbal and non-verbal communication. Using sarcasm, jokes, and profanity at inappropriate times can cause your manager to question your professionalism. Gossiping and blaming others for mistakes are also frowned upon in basic office etiquette. The same goes for your body language. Uncross those arms, smile, and be enthusiastic when speaking with your manager. And when they reply, don’t just pretend to be interested, actually be interested.
- Use your voice: Managers like to know that you’re engaged with your work, and you can demonstrate this by constructively voicing your opinion or pitching a new idea in line with the company’s goals. But when speaking up be sure to do so sparingly, only speaking to the topic at hand. Engaging in small talk, making jokes, or bringing up unrelated issues might indicate that you’re not “in the moment”. In other words, you should say something, but don’t just say anything.
- It’s all about your manager: Most managers are willing to accommodate some intrusion of your personal life into the 9 to 5. Sometimes you need to take a personal call. There are times when your child is sick and you have to pick him or her up from school or daycare. That’s life. But don’t kid yourself – that understanding boss considers these distractions just that: distractions. You might consider making lost time up the next day, and cutting down on lunch breaks to demonstrate that you’re not taking advantage of their generous nature. Communicating in advance about any outside appointments will also help you build up a level of trust. But keep an eye on the clock and be sure to get back to work as soon as you can.
- Show them appreciation: Ever had a boss who had bad manners but was a wizard with Excel? Focus on their wizardry. If you show them that you value their knowledge they will feel appreciated, and potentially reciprocate in some form. It touches on that old adage – treat one how you’d like to be treated. Besides, dwelling on their bad manners will only affect your morale, and that’s not good for anyone. Just avoid over-appreciating. Managers are suspicious of people who constantly compliment and praise them. Let them be more impressed when you deliver that project on time.
- Expect disagreements: Even the most loving of couples fight. You can expect some disagreements with your boss as well, but unlike your spouse, your manager’s relationship with you is unwaveringly vertical. Although it might go against your better judgment, remember that he/she is the boss. Even when they’re wrong, they’re right. Show trust, move on, don’t dwell.
- Stay big-picture focused: When making strategic recommendations to your manager, be sure to keep the entire organization’s overall goals in mind. This will not only demonstrate that you’re aware of your company’s objectives, but also that you’re a team player.
This last point is especially crucial within organizations that foster employee engagement. Grooming intrapreneurs who use company resources to execute their forward-thinking innovations creates leaders who are loyal to the organization.
And becoming an intrapreneur will not only make your boss look good, it can help fast-track you up the ladder.