Going through some comments on an article about the need to connect with your manager to learn about how they manage the work, you can get some great additional insight on a topic. Of course, you have to wade through the crap too. Here’s a choice for having the wrong attitude about connecting with your manager (names and links deliberately removed):
It’s not my job to connect to my boss
I’m a tech professional, renting my skills to my employer. It’s boss’s job to connect to me.
Do you expect your plumber to connect to you? No! You connect to him, and tell him to to fix your plumbing. Then you pay him, and that’s it.
As a manager of this person, you’d have a tough time getting any advocacy from me. And if I were a coworker of this person, I’d think you’d bring a big fat zero to contributing to the team.
Now, I can hear the whole thing about how “it’s always the employee’s responsibility to do everything and management’s job to do nothing” stuff. But that’s wrong too (besides, this site’s point of view is the person working in the cube, not the manager…).
Business is social and people need to connect to get things done. Whether your manager tries meshing their approach to the work with you first in a new job or reorganization or you do go first, the connecting needs to get done.
Here’s what’s going on:
Part of your hiring was connecting to your manager’s approach to work
The third question a hiring manager needs answering is determining if you will fit into the current team. Because bringing on a new team member disrupts the team and the work.
Now, I think we get that the manager that hires us won’t be our manager forever. Reorganizations and different jobs happen. But the need for having compatibility with your hiring manager doesn’t go away simply because you have a new manager. Your manager’s relationship with you is critical for getting the best work to fit your strengths, reducing your stress on the job (“hate my manager” adds stress…) and getting positioned for raises and promotions.
Whether you initiate that connection or your manager does is not relevant. It needs to happen.
You need to know your manager early on after starting
Whether you connect with your manager after the manager hires you or if you connect after a reorganization, it is important to go through the process early. Why?
Well, first, the earlier in the relationship you understand how your manager works, the better able you are to fit into that style. In addition, you have a far better chance of influencing how the manager should manage the work if you try and work through that early. You work what you can control and influence and you can influence a manager earlier in their time as your manager more than later.
How long will your job last?
Every job has a life span. It could be a 3-month project where you are on contract or it could be two years before the work is done. You should be deciding how long a position lasts so you can proactively look for a new job when the current one is ending according to your criteria.
Well, managers make a big difference in how long a position lasts. As in, I hate my manager so I’m done. Or, I hated my manager and now I have this new one — what should I do?
A change in managers is a big change in your outlook for how long a job lasts. The change can be the beginning of a wonderful time in your work or the worst stint in a job in a long time, all in the same job but by having different managers. By figuring out how your manager approaches work, you are that much closer to knowing, right now, how long your job will last, putting yourself in a position to do something about it.
Cubicle Warriors don’t give up their power in a job
To ignore trying to make a connection with a new manager because you are “rented skills” and the manager should go first is abdicating your power to decide much of your own fate on the job. Everyone has the ability to influence their manager, just as a manager has the ability to influence your work and job skills.
Unfortunately, in this work environment, it is sometimes easy to simply think of yourself as only “rented skills” to perform work. In fact, I think you should look at what you do as rented skills because it forces you to think through what work you like doing and knowing the work environment where you do your best work.
After a change in managers, if that work and the work environment change for the worse, you need to discern what has changed early on, figure out how long the job will last, and use your power to change the situation — or your job — for the better.