Move Forward, Together
After completing this unit, you’ll be able to:
- Assess and nurture your relationship with your manager.
- Find areas of professional growth in your work.
- Learn how to influence your manager toward solutions that work for you.
When our flight crew is working together on a long-haul flight or even a few trips back to back, having a good rapport certainly makes the experience more enjoyable for them and for the passengers. When a flight attendant assists a customer for a colleague or the first officer takes the controls if the captain feels tired, it strengthens the trust between teammates.
You and your manager are teammates as well. And like the work our flight crew does together, the work you do also requires trust and communication. At Salesforce, trust is our #1 value. Are you thinking, “How do I build trust with my manager?” Here are a few ways:
- Ensure that your manager doesn’t get blindsided by bad news.
- Meet deadlines.
- Do your job well.
- Be mindful of your manager’s time.
- Bring potential solutions to the problems you raise.
- Take on a challenging project and execute it well.
- Find opportunities to show what you’ve learned.
It takes time to build a strong, trusting relationship, and it won’t always be smooth. But keeping in mind that we all are doing our best and working toward the same goals can help you stay in alignment even when you hit a rough patch.
Think about the pilot in the cockpit and the air-traffic controllers in the tower.
How frequently do you think the pilot checks in with them before taking off? How about during the flight? How frequently does the flight team inform the passengers about safety? Pretty regularly.
Staying in alignment means keeping your colleagues informed about what's about to happen or may happen soon. If your project goes over budget, or a client is upset about your work, your manager wants to hear it from you. When you hit any snags in your work, here's what you can do:
- Describe the issue: Give your manager a summary of the issue and what it means.
- Provide potential solutions and your approach: Tell your manager how you’re working to solve the problem and describe additional solutions that you may try next. Louise O’Dwyer recommends, “If you're bringing a concern to your manager, have three possible solutions in mind. Don't hide problems; bring them up right away and troubleshoot with your manager.”
- Consider the impact: Tell your manager what you think will happen if you put your solution in place.
- Take ownership: Show your manager that you are confident about your solution and you’re committed to ensuring it works.
At Salesforce, we’re committed to creating a culture of feedback that allows our managers and our employees to be transparent with one another.
We’d even say that success depends on timely, frequent, and direct feedback. So when you’re aligning with your manager, be honest about what’s working and what isn’t. If this seems difficult, you can use the SBI model to provide specifics on the situation, behavior, and impact when giving feedback to your manager.
Cue the applause as you celebrate a big win, a well-executed launch, or the seamless release of your latest product. In our fast-paced work environment, it can be challenging to resist the impulse to just move on to the next project. Take the time to celebrate success! You can:
- Shine a light on what’s working for your team.
- Build trust with your manager by highlighting that you’re capable of doing great work.
- Inspire your colleagues.
- Motivate other teams to partner with you.
- Bring credibility and praise to your own manager.
Have you ever been influenced into doing something?
Perhaps you’re at dinner and your companion says, “How about we get dessert?” Suddenly, you feel compelled to order the chocolatiest thing on the menu. We’ve all been there.
Influencing your manager can be as subtle as asking a question at the right time or framing your information in a particular way. Much like we work with our customers to show them how Salesforce can improve their relationships with their customers, you can influence your manager by demonstrating how your work or potential projects can move their goals and the team’s goals forward.
Try one of these strategies for nudging your boss in subtle, but convincing ways.
- Think like your boss. Is your manager particularly detail oriented? Customer focused? Frame your proposals or suggestions with your manager’s focus in mind.
- Tell a story in your boss’s language. Remember when we talked about communication styles? If your manager responds well to data and facts, make sure to support your ideas with the numbers. If your manager prefers to read information first, send an in-depth email or brief before you talk in person. And if your manager responds to storytelling and energy, share your work with a compelling narrative about how you got it done.
- Focus on the greater good. Show your manager how your action or plan will benefit the business or others on your team.
Want to learn more about this valuable skill? Check out the Trust and Influence module to master the tips and tricks of nudging your managers, colleagues, and direct reports to move projects and objectives forward.
Getting aligned with your manager and staying in sync isn’t automatic. It takes effort from both people to be open, honest, and real with each other. Once you’re in step, you can communicate frequently and clearly to accomplish the goals that you’ve set for yourself and the team no matter what setbacks you experience en route. Just remember to take time to celebrate and appreciate victories and each other’s efforts to stay motivated, engaged, and inspired.