Welcome to Recruiter Q&A, where we pose employment-related questions to the experts and share their answers! Have a question you’d like to ask? Leave it in the comments, and you might just see it in the next installment of Recruiter Q&A!
Today’s Question: Maybe you just started a new role at a new company and you want to make a good impression, or maybe you feel like your manager doesn’t have a great opinion of you and you’re looking to change that. Whatever the circumstances, we’re looking for your best advice on how employees can impress their managers and get into their good graces!
1. Be Transparent
Whether you are trying to make a positive first impression on your new manager or hoping to improve an existing relationship, getting on someone’s good side always depends upon a foundation of transparency and trust.
Being transparent about both the challenges you are facing and the successes you are enjoying is critical. Miscommunications often occur when managers aren’t aware of the work their colleagues are carrying out. Keeping your manager in the loop could be as simple as holding a weekly meeting or forwarding kudos you received from a client. If you aren’t sure what form or frequency of communication your manager prefers, ask them – they will thank you.
Like all relationships, a good relationship with your manager relies on mutual trust – you trusting that your manager has your best interests in mind, and your manager trusting that you have your team’s best interests in mind. If you feel as though that circle of trust is broken, have a diplomatic discussion about what needs to be improved and what can be changed.
— Tim Gates, Adecco Staffing USA
2. Don’t Go Above and Beyond – Yet
If you’re starting a new role, it can be tempting to try to go above and beyond right away in order to impress your boss and show initiative. But there’s a chance you might anticipate your manager’s needs incorrectly and end up hurting yourself in the long run. Instead, in your first few weeks, I think it’s important to follow this rule: Give them what they want, so that you can give them what they need.
In other words, execute everything you’re asked to do impeccably well. Blow every assignment out of the water. Your manager will see you not just as someone who’s competent, but as someone they can trust to get the job done. Then you can have a conversation about how you can contribute more strategically and impactfully – you can share new ideas you have for the company or department, new ways of doing things, interesting projects you’d like to work on. You’ve already created that cornerstone of trust with your manager. They know you’re competent, and they’ll be much more open to your ideas than they would be if you came out with guns blazing on day one.
— Ian Cluroe, Alexander Mann Solutions
3. Remember: You Work for Your Supervisor, Not Your Company
Employees need to understand that they work for their supervisors, not their companies. Rarely is the company aware of who you are or what you do. If you’re more interested in helping your supervisor look good than making yourself look good, you will see the support from your supervisor grow. You should be more preoccupied with your supervisor’s status than your own.
— Damon J. Smith, Souletics
4. Understand Your Manager’s Communication Preferences
Ultimately, it comes down to understanding your manager’s communication preferences, knowing their quality standards, and maintaining alignment with their expectations. If any one of those are out of line, employees will be scrambling to make up ground and rescue their reputations.
A few things you need to know about your manager in order to stay aligned with their preferences include:
- How frequently do they like to be updated on project progress (e.g., along the way or only at key milestones)?
- In what way(s) do they like to be updated (e.g., email, casual conversation, formal Gantt chart, etc.)?
- What is their primary motivation in their job (i.e., what will help them succeed)?
- How does your manager evaluate and determine success (i.e., what do they value most)?
— Addam Marcotte, FMG Leading
5. Cast a Broad Net
Everyone is different, but by casting a broad net of approaches, you can easily win a manager over. There are three approaches I like to attempt when meeting a new manager.
The first is to prove my worth. Take on a project and knock it out of the park. This will set the bar for work expectations moving forward. Managers like coworkers who can make their lives easier by producing solid work.
The second is showing that you are flexible. When working with a new manager, you should brainstorm multiple ways to complete a project and ask which style they prefer. This shows not only that you have a diverse skill set, but also that you are not too proud to bend to their preferences.
The third is connecting on a personal level. If a manager wears their favorite sports team’s shirt, give them a dig about how their team lost this past weekend – even if it’s subtle and by email. No matter what the style, we all like to talk about ourselves. Get the manager to open up in a non-overbearing manner by keeping it genuine.
— Greg Kuchcik, Zeeto
6. Show Your Manager That You Fit With the Team
When I started my new position at WebTek, I really wanted to make a good impression to let my boss know he did the right thing by hiring me. I have a great work ethic, so I felt that would be the best way to impress him.
I quickly discovered that hard work was not the only thing he was looking for. It was important to him that I fit in with the other team members. I worked hard at getting to know everyone and made it seem like I was always a part of the team. This not only made me look good to the boss, but also helped the others accept me.
— Mary Eileen Graczyk, WebTek
7. Tackle Problems Head-On
When people come into a new role at a new company, they have an outsider’s perspective. That makes it easier for them to recognize flaws in the way things are done. This is true for every new employee; however, the way a new hire reacts to these flaws will fall into one of a few categories:
- They keep silent.
- They complain to coworkers but don’t share thoughts with their manager.
- They share their opinions with their manager without offering solutions.
- They come to the manager with solutions to the problem and are prepared to own that effort.
By far the fourth category is the most effective and impressive thing to see from a new hire. I want people that are prepared to tackle problems head-on – not just complain about them.
— Courtney Cox, Research Now