Access our Guide for Mastering Email Communication.
Enter your email and we will send you the guide.
Better Communication: 4 Ways to get Ahead at Work.
Are you where you want to be in your career? If not, here are four ways to move forward. It’s easy to take things personally as an employee. It can feel as though management is getting in the way, or holding you back. The reality is, most managers are busy. They are not thinking about how you may be interpreting or analyzing what they do (or say). Your boss is not trying to hold you back or ignore you. They are focused on doing their own job, and worrying about their bosses. Have you thought about how you can get their undivided attention and to show your hard work? The first step is to create a plan. Have you given your manager something important to listen to? Maybe you haven’t presented things in a way to get you noticed. To get the attention you want, use these four tactics during your approach.
- Shorter Emails
It’s easy to waste time trying to draft the “perfect email”. It takes a lot of time to come up with the best way to communicate and impress without rambling on. Have you ever crafted the “perfect email”, then received a one word response? “Thanks”, “okay”, “yes” etc?. While it may seem like your great email was a waste of time, this is a good thing! If you craft your emails correctly, then all you need is a one word response. All the work should be on your end. When an email seems simple and to the point, it’s not the first draft. Steve Jobs was an advocate for minimizing quantity for maximum quality. He said “simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.” (Steve Jobs). Clear, concise, and effective communication saves time and moves your agenda forward, faster. Draft up your email, then figure out how to make it as short as possible without losing quality. When the presentation is simple, it is easier for the audience to assign validity to the content.
- Ask for some of their time.
Do you have uninterrupted time with your manager throughout the week? Each manager has a different style of interacting with his/her employees. If you do not have regular one-on-one meetings with your boss, ask for one. Make it easy for your boss to give you time. Try looking at their calendar for free time. Most meetings are between 30-60 minutes (Attentiv). Limit your meetings to 30 minutes. This will force you to be efficient and concise, and your manager will be happier too.
- Follow through.
A new project usually adds more work to your day. Make sure you are ready for it. More responsibility doesn’t mean substituting a fun new project for your “boring” normal work. Present your manager with how you are adding value with your proposal. The key is to maintain a high performance in your normal day to day, while taking on this new project. If you’re not sure where to start, use these three questions to guide you:
- What are my goals for the project?
- How long it will take?
- What is my idea of success when it comes to the outcomes of this project/situation?
These might not be the only questions to come up, but tackling these will set you up for answering the rest. Intentions and planning are the first step in your success. Follow through is what will build your reputation. Think about it as a New Year’s resolution. Your intention are the resolution, but without follow through then your plan has failed. Unfortunately “only 8% of people achieve their New Year’s goals” (Forbes). These are not great statistics for success. The best way to produce results, and avoid failure is to create a plan you can follow through with. Whether it’s putting in longer hours or doing extra research, be prepared to put in work. Create a plan that you can stick to. If you fail to finish your own plan, you will be seen as someone who can’t follow through. Delivering what you promised portrays you as someone who is passionate, dedicated, and responsible. These are all qualities that will open the door to further opportunities.
- “Just say yes”
Make it easy for them to say yes. Whether you are sending an email or starting a conversation, set yourself up for success. Most managers are not thinking of all the ways to say no to your request. They are thinking about if your request is going to create more work for them. Understand what you’re asking from your boss, and figure out how to do most of the work yourself. By being proactive you can “anticipate potential pushback” (Forbes Contributor). After pitching your idea, summarize how your plan will make your boss’ job easier. It should be easy for your manager to just say yes.
A Strong Closing Argument.
Your manager’s opinion may be the center of your career world, but they have their own bosses to worry about. People respect hard work, and determination. Your boss may not be watching for your next opportunity, but they are watching the work you’re doing. Create your own opportunities, and take the extra steps to get their buy-in. Some managers might say they are too busy, but they will make time for the right opportunity. The right opportunity is even more appealing when it requires little work on their part. Use your time with them wisely, and set yourself up for success.
Good luck! Let us know how you devised your plan in the comments section below.