Your supervisor’s style and preferences for communication, meetings, decision-making and getting work accomplished will impact your work. Understand their preferences and adapt yours when possible to align yourself and your team for high levels of efficiency and productivity. Styles and preferences vary widely and you may discover that the way you prefer to work is opposite from your supervisor. This may work well the majority of the time but there will most likely be times when you need to set your preferences aside and adapt your style to promote collaboration.
Preferences for Independence or Collaboration
Ask your supervisor about their preferences and speak with their assistant, as appropriate, to learn more about how they prefer to get work done and any preferences they have for meetings and teamwork. You want to understand if they prefer to work independently or if they seek input and consensus as part of their decision-making process. You want to be prepared as much as possible to participate and be flexible to ensure your contributions are high value.
Your supervisor’s communication style may vary widely from yours. Listen to their word choice in meetings and during speeches and other broad communications. You can learn a great deal about their preferences, tendencies for planning and the extent to which they tend to be empathetic, abrasive, authentic or elusive with others. Observe their body language and compare your observations with commonly held beliefs about body language. You will most likely learn very quickly the extent to which they are filtered or unfiltered in their communication with others. What you discover may be useful in how you communicate with your supervisor and employees. The goal is to learn as much as you can as quickly as possible to maximize the value you add.
Your supervisor’s goals and motivations combine with directives from their leadership and the circumstances in which they are expected to produce results. Observe and be aware that any time you ask for their support they will most likely weigh the importance of supporting your request with the amount of political capital it will cost them. They only have so much capital and the most effective leaders will spend it wisely. Do not take offense if they decline a request for support, understand instead that your requests are only a few of the requests that they are asked to consider.
- During your first 30 days, understand your supervisor’s agenda and preferences and plan to align your actions accordingly.
- Invest time to understand as much about your supervisor as possible from various sources.
- Review information about communication styles and body language.
- Learn about how work is accomplished and of any alliances or unwritten rules.
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