Whether you are new to organization or you’ve just landed with a new boss in a re-organization, a conversation with your new boss is an excellent time to assess your career trajectory. Using some of the questions in each of these 7 areas will help you chart your course. [selected wisdom from Michael Watkins, The First 90 Days: Proven Strategies for Getting Up to Speed Faster and Smarter]
- The first area to nail down is around alignment. Your job is to help your new boss. Ask, “What are your goals?” and then listen carefully to learn what will be important to your boss. Listen for the types of things that will have her attention. Extract some of the tasks you do that will support her success. Verify how you support those goals. Is your view of what you are here to do the same as the boss?
- Get clear about what success looks like. “What metrics and deliverables are important for you?” “Over what time frame?” If important, “What kinds of approaches and methods do I need to use?” Which leads right into the next area.
- “What are the resources are available to get done what you need to get done?” That can include staffing, funding, access to information and, the always important, line of authority. Identify resources to ramp up to learn about the organizations and getting things done.
- “What are the unwritten rules?” Every organization and boss has them. Generally the number one rule is “no surprises.” Does your new boss value initiative and results or need to approve every step? “How much latitude do I have to get things done?”
- “Who do I need to bring along with me?” “Who are the influencers and stakeholders when changes are afoot?” It can also include how much of your boss’s time will you have to make the case for a change.
- Differences in communication style can derail the relationship with your boss. The onus is really on the person reporting to the leader to adjust their approach to match the leader. Ask for preferences such as, “Are you more face to face or do you prefer email? “Phone call or text?” “Do you like more detail? Less detail?” “When can I wake you up in the middle of the night?” Clarity about that side of things can really help shape the early interactions.
- You’ll want to inquire about your own personal development. “What am I doing well? What am I not doing so well?” Check in early via informal feedback. Ask about specific things that you can adjust. Research shows that people taking new roles often don’t get feedback early enough, and get themselves into much more trouble than necessary. Bosses tend to be a little bit hands-off to see how people work things out. Having that personal development conversation, pushing to get some feedback, make sure you can make course corrections.
Got hindsight? What are the questions you wished you’d asked the last time you got a new boss?