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There has been a restructuring within my Org. and my reporting manager has changed. My earlier manager used to sit in the same bay and so we could indulge in some casual talks and he was more or less aware of what I was into. However, my new manager sits in a different bay and we have had very less interaction since I started working here.

Now I understand that it is important to be in touch with the manager.

I'm in a dilemma about if I should be scheduling a meeting with my immediate manager?

If yes, what should be the agenda behind it? Does it have to be about the immediate work; sort of an update? Or about career aspirations?

Is it the onus of the employee to let his superior know about the work he is doing ? Or the manager should be initiating it? [Just to clarify - Luckily, my org has a very open culture. Everyone is easily approachable]

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I'm a big fan of regular 1:1 meetings (both having them with my direct reports and with my own manager) and from my perspective it's perfectly fine to ask your new manager if he or she would like to schedule 1:1 meetings with you (although he or she should really be on that already, but let's give them the benefit of the doubt that they're just settling in to their position). Your manager could always say no, which would certainly tell you something about your manager and his or her management style, but there's no harm in asking. Should the manager initiate it? Yes, I would expect that. But, if they don't, and you really want the opportunity to speak on a regular basis, you should say so.

When you ask for a standing meeting, it's important to show that you have a reason for it, which gets to the second part of your question. Absent a "formal" structure for the 1:1, but with the goal of providing some sort of agenda so as not to waste anyone's time (yours or your manager's), you could follow the general organization of the daily stand-up meeting used by practitioners of Agile: what did you do yesterday, what are you working on today, what blockers do you have in front of you.

Of course, such detail is not really appropriate for a weekly or bi-weekly 1:1 with your manager, but you certainly could provide an overview of what you did since the last time you talked, talk generally about what's in front of you, and then talk about any issues or concerns that you have. All of that would start what should be an organic conversation between you and your manager; if you do 1:1s regularly you'll probably find your own way into a conversational structure that works for both of you and provides good and useful information.

On a related note, Rands talks about 1:1s from a manager's point of view, and how they're the chance for a manager to listen for updates, vents, (and possibly head off) disasters. All of that assumes a regular and useful semi-structured conversation in which you can both speak honestly, and again, from a manager's perspective (although not your manager), going to your manager and asking to implement something like that to foster a good working relationship is a good thing.

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Is it the onus of the employee to let his superior know about the work he is doing ? Or the manager should be initiating it?

In an ideal world every manager manages each employee just as they need to be managed (because everyone has a different style which works best). So theoretically your manager will initiate to find something which works best for both you...

Having 1/1 conversations is important, even if only so your manager knows what you are doing. It's easy to assume your manager is a mind reader. They aren't.

If yes, what should be the agenda behind it? Does it have to be about the immediate work; sort of an update? Or about career aspirations?

All of the above - but maybe not at the same time.

I keep a running list of "things I want to talk with my manager about but not important enough to schedule a meeting or email about" and use this as an agenda.


But before you do this setup a meeting with your manager specifically to discuss:

  • Their style - how do they like to manage?
  • Your style - how do you like to be managed?
  • 1/1's, email CC's, etc

Probably make it an hour. This is a conversation which is incredibly helpful with a new manager. It helps you not see your manager as an adversary but rather a coworker (and vice versa). You can figure out what works for them, and a natural result is a 1/1 or whatever works for you.

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In a perfect world, the manager should take responsibility for knowing what is going on in his projects. However, your world clearly is not perfect and you are a member of a team. There are people who are opposed to doing anything outside of their job description, and indeed there are some teams where stepping outside your job description is frowned on and viewed as a threat. It doesn't sound like your team is like this, so the question is--are you comfortable stepping up and doing what you need to to help the team succeed?

If so, I wouldn't start by insisting on a one-on-one. Instead, I'd start by dropping periodic notes to your new boss that detail what your progress is, what you expect to accomplish in the near future, and what things are blocking you.

After you do that for a week or two, see whether this helps with the communication with your boss. If not, send a separate email stating that you're used to having more communication with the previous boss, that you thought it worked well, and asking what you can do to regain that amount of contact. The reason I suggest a separate email is that I have had poor results sending emails that contain more than one thought, especially if at least one thought is important and needs action.

Once you have done that, you have discharged the responsibility you have to get the communication going and head off any problems that could result from the lack. At that point, the ball is squarely in your manager's court and it's up to him.

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