Chair’s Corner: Talk to Your Boss!

For those of us out there working in a structure where we have someone we report to, it’s really important that we open the line of communication with our superiors when it comes to our goals and the path we see for ourselves.

I brought this idea up recently at a speaking engagement I did regarding advocating for yourself, and the #1 thing I recommended besides understanding what you want out of your life and your career is: you absolutely need to communicate with your manager. If they don’t know what your path is and what you seek to achieve, they can’t help guide you there. As your manager, their top priority should be to help shape and guide you as you advance towards the goals you’re looking to meet.

So, my advice is to take the time to sit down with your manager, let them know where you are and where you want to be, then they can then give you advice on how to get there. You could be asking for a raise or a different position to ‘climb the ladder’, and you can ask for it outright! “I’d like to be a supervisor!” For all you know, they might say “yes, we have a position open RIGHT NOW!” But typically speaking, they’ll more likely say, “I didn’t know you were interested in being a supervisor!” At this point you can ask them for steps you can take to get there, trainings you could do, or books you could read to help you in your journey to becoming a supervisor. Or they may end up guiding you in glorious directions you hadn’t even considered for yourself, but they see the potential in you.

If your manager doesn’t know what you want out of your career, they can’t help you get there.

I have seen this advice succeed in real life twice since giving it; two separate people who had aspirations for more out of their career. I asked them if they had talked to their manager—neither had. But now that they have taken my advice, both individuals are on a much faster track to getting where they want to be in their career with an advocate by their side. Development isn’t an overnight process but instead a series of right steps, and no better way to know the right steps than to ask someone who has already been down the road.

Sounds a lot more effective than sitting in your current role hoping someone will recognize your worth, amirite?

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