If you’re an IT department employee and you’re having a hard time getting your manager to listen to what you have to say, it’s important to understand the dynamics of your department and your boss’s mindset.
The Nature of IT Departments
IT departments are an integral part of every business. Without them, many companies wouldn’t be able to function properly; yet, in most cases, they make up only a fraction of a company’s overall workforce. It’s typical for a company with several thousand employees to employ only a handful of people to ensure that their technology is sound.
With so much at stake and so few hands on deck, an IT department can be a stressful place to work. IT managers have it the hardest. Indeed, if anything goes wrong, the blame will ultimately fall back on them.
Getting Through to Your Boss
If you feel that you’re having a hard time getting through to your boss, you’ll have to work to earn his trust. The following ten tips will help you build your relationship with your manager and gain his respect:
- Make Sure You’re Communicating Properly
George Bernard Shaw once said: “The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place”. The first step to building a rapport with others is to communicate properly. One of the main components of successful communication is making sure that both sides understand each other and walk away knowing what’s on the other person’s mind. If you have a conversation with your manager, and either party isn’t sure what the other was trying to say, then, in the words of Shaw, the conversation never happened.
- Develop a Relationship
Try to get as personal as you can with your boss without being annoying. When you ask someone how they’re doing, it will humanize them, and they will start to appreciate you as a person.
- Know Your Manager’s Goals
Always be on top of what your manager is working on and understand what he’s trying to accomplish. Compliment him when you like a project that he’s working on or when he implements a new policy. If you provide positive feedback about something that’s going on at the department, it will make him feel like you’re a member of the team.
- Be Careful With Negative Feedback
While it’s okay to disagree when you think something is wrong, tread lightly before you say something that may sound critical. You don’t want him to get the impression that you’re a disagreeable person in general; furthermore, if he proceeds without listening to your advice, be sure to work with a positive attitude, so he can see that you’re a team player who was only looking out for him.
- Be Upfront When Something Bad Happens
If you’ve made a mistake that he should know about, bring it to his attention in a polite, apologetic, and straightforward manner. Don’t explain that you were trying to be innovative and had you succeeded you would have been a hero, because that’s totally irrelevant. Take ownership of the problem by apologizing, and try to move on.
- Always Be Well Prepared, and Understand That Time Is a Rare Commodity
If you need to present something to your manager or members of your team, make sure you are very familiar with the subject matter. Be concise, and focus on the main points that you’re trying to convey. Try to avoid going off on a tangent, unless someone asks you a question that takes you off-topic. People value their time, and they appreciate a person who is clear and direct with their words. Work on your oral and written communications until you feel you can communicate them clearly in a minimal amount of time or words.
- Be a Game-Changer
Network with your manager and colleagues to find out what they’re working on and where they’re having difficulties. Try to bring positive, helpful ideas to the table that will help them deal with issues they’re having. Make sure not to be condescending; people don’t like pompousness, and if they feel that you think you’re better than them or that you’re undermining them, it will only work against you.
- Honor the Chain of Command
If you’re having an issue with your manager, deal with him directly. Going to his higher-ups could permanently damage any relationship you may have had with him. If for any reason you feel you have no choice but to speak to his boss, don’t do it behind his back. Let him know, in a very polite way, that you’re going over his head, and explain your reason for doing so. In many cases, approaching your manager in such a manner will compel him to be more attentive to what you’re trying to get across to him.
- If the Meeting Is Important, Arrive Early
Coming late to a meeting is a show of disrespect to the other attendees. At best, people will think that you’re irresponsible. Most likely, they’ll feel that you don’t take the issues at hand seriously, and you will lose their respect. If you come on time and look organized, you’ll blend in as another member of the team.
- Try to Take a Seat Next to the Team Leader
A good leader will give everyone in the room an equal amount of attention, but many people are more mindful to the people sitting in their immediate vicinity. If you can figure out how to get to sit next to the people in charge, they will notice you more and will take more heed of your input than other people’s suggestions.
Stick With It Until You Succeed
It’s not easy to build a relationship, and it’s hard to get people to respect you. Forging a bond takes a lot of time, effort, and patience. If you work diligently to improve how you conduct yourself in public and how you interact with others, people will see that you’re a good person and that you bring value to your company and peers.
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