We assume people will do things the same way we do, such as be on time for appointments, pay their fair share in a restaurant, and tell us in advance if they’re going to miss a deadline—because that’s what we do. We don’t tell people what we expect from them, because we don’t think we need to. It’s a little like being frustrated that you weren’t given audit assignment to manage that you never asked for. Or hoping for a new iPhone for your birthday but not telling anyone, and then being annoyed when you receive a Samsung phone.
Tips 2: Consider using the following language when starting business relationships.
Kicking Off Relationships with Direct Reports
“As your manager, my job is to help you
get where you want to go, whether that is within this organization or elsewhere.
As a result, I’m going to let you know anything I hear you say or see you do
or see you wear that either contributes to your success or gets in the way of
Kicking Off Relationships with Direct
“I’m committed to my professional development, and I’m always looking for growth opportunities. I hope that if you hear me say or see me do or see me wear anything that gets in the way of how I want to be seen, you will tell me. I promise I’ll be receptive and say thank you. I also, of course, hope you’ll tell me the things I do well that are in line with your expectations.”
Kicking Off Relationships with Coworkers
“I want a good relationship with you. If
we work together long enough, I’m sure I’ll screw it up. I’ll wait too long to reply to an email, make a mistake, or miss a deadline. I’d like the kind of relationship in which we can talk about these things. I always want to know what you think. And I promise that no matter what you tell me, I’ll say
thank you. Is it okay if I work this way with you?”
Managers who take the time and make the effort to set expectations build trust, rapport, and relationship—the elements of smooth working relationships. Although supervisors don’t need permission to give their direct reports feedback, many are hesitant to do so. They don’t want to offend or damage a new relationship. Like most people, managers are concerned that if they give negative feedback, they won’t be liked or their employees might quit. You might be thinking, “It’s my boss’s job to give me feedback. I shouldn’t have to ask for it.” And you’re right. Your boss should give you feedback and you shouldn’t have to ask for it. But if he doesn’t, you’re at a huge disadvantage. You may spend massive amounts of time on projects that aren’t really important. You may not be given opportunities and never know why. And you may think your performance is strong, only to find out otherwise when you receive a mediocre performance review and a nominal pay increase. So yes, your boss should give you feedback without your having to ask for it. You can be right all day, but your righteousness won’t get you any closer to the career or business relationship you want.
Give People Permission
to Tell You the Truth.
Remember: No matter
how hard you try, you will make mistakes. If a relationship lasts long enough, at
some point you’ll take too long to return a call, provide misinformation, or
disappoint the other person in another way. Wouldn’t you like your boss to tell
you when you make a mistake, giving you a chance to make things right before
getting that bad review or perhaps being fired?