For one reason or another, many people feel too intimated to ask their managers certain questions. Whether it’s about personal career development, clarification on a project or simply wanting to check in, your manager is not someone you should be afraid to reach out to. When you feel comfortable enough to ask your superior the questions that are on your mind, you’re demonstrating a genuine interest in the company, your professional future and a sense of confidence that your boss should appreciate and value. So, in order to help you get ahead at work and develop a strong rapport with your manager, here are three questions that you should never shy away from asking.
What do you think of… ?
While it can be easy to get used to the status quo of your daily routine at work, you probably have plenty of new ideas that you’d love to run by your boss. However, like many employees, you might put these on the back burner for a number of reasons. Maybe you don’t want to bother your manager, are holding back for fear of rejection or don’t think your idea is fully baked. Either way, none of these scenarios should keep you from openly sharing your well-informed thoughts.
Whether it’s something that can be executed immediately or not, managers like to see that their employees are thinking. Just the simple act of pitching a new thought shows that you’re putting your work into the bigger context of the company’s mission and trying to identify ways to improve certain operations or tasks. This is a crucial part of growth, and a clear sign that you have a genuine interest in the company’s success (not to mention your own development). And you never know, your idea could be the answer to an issue your boss has been trying to solve.
Are there any projects you need help with?
As mentioned above, managers get busy. They probably already delegate a number of tasks and responsibilities to you, so you may feel as if you’re already of optimal use to them. But just as in the case with pitching new ideas, you shouldn’t feel afraid to ask your manager about any additional existing projects you can help with.
Maybe your boss has mentioned something that interests you, and it’s also something that’s taking up a great deal of his or her time. Do you feel as if you have any valuable insights or skills to contribute to it? Do you see an opportunity to grow your skills? Consider asking your manager if there’s room for another person on the team. By offering to help, you’re displaying an interest in your career development and potentially alleviating your manager’s workload. There’s no guarantee that your manager will be able to add you to the project, but the gesture will leave a great impression.
How’s everything going?
It should never be underestimated how much a bit of friendliness can positively impact your relationship with your manager. While this question is arguably less intimidating to ask than the questions referenced above, it sometimes gets overlooked in the chaos of the work day and the anxiousness of quick, to-the-point meetings. Everyone’s relationship with their manager is different — you may formally meet with him or her once a week, informally every day or more sporadically throughout the month. Regardless, it takes less than a minute or two to simply check in with each other before getting down to data and reports. Many managers will take the lead on this, but if they don’t, you shouldn’t hesitate to be the one who does.
Cathryn Sloane is a Marketing Manager for Varsity Tutors, a live learning platform that connects students with personalized instruction to accelerate academic achievement.
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