Does this sound familiar? You and your manager are running at a million miles per hour, you only get one chance per month for a one-on-one. You have a list of 10 things to cover. You have a 30-minute time slot and she’s running late.
In this case you’re not left with much choice. Realistically you’ll only have time for three things from your list. So you quickly shift your agenda to get to the most urgent issues in this abbreviated meeting.
You may be wondering, where has the quality time gone?
Unfortunately, this situation happens all the time. We are lucky to get 20 minutes a month with our managers, sometimes not all in one sitting. With a higher employee-to-manager ratio today, those managers are swamped and they are getting pressure from both above and below.
So what if there’s an issue only they can solve, such as getting a headcount, budget or other crucial detail? Try as you might to prioritize the issue, somehow it always gets moved off the agenda.
Here are 8 tips for getting quality time with your manager:
Ask yourself, whose agenda is it? If you care about this item and it is critical to discuss with your manager, be clear, get to the point and have an opinion. You don’t need to discuss everything to the same level of detail. The shorthand you share can be very valuable.
Make this topic important enough for a one-on-one. Don’t combine it with other issues. Give the item relevance by separating it into its own agenda.
Combine it with another activity. As a way to get on the calendar, invite them to share a meal, coffee, walk or even workout together. Be creative about meeting them at their convenience. I found when I traveled that many of us liked to work out in the morning. Maybe you and your boss meet in the gym before you start your day.
Come with solutions not problems. Your manager is not your sounding board. That is a waste of their time. Have your case figured out by using others as sounding boards first. Come to the boss when you are ready to make a decision and need their blessing. Build your case and come prepared so that your time together is productive.
Show them you are capable. Provide details if they ask, but they will soon learn you are to be trusted and your business cases are solid. This will result in more latitude and authority to make decisions.
Email them on the simple things. Save your quality one-on-one time for issues that truly require dialogue.
Be proactive about making connections. Get a mentor in the organization who can give you advice on key issues. Build relationships with your peers. Your job is to navigate and create solutions with your peers and other stakeholders. Just go out and do it. You don’t need your manager to do that for you.
Create your own development and career plan. Start this on your own, then bring it to your manager to discuss milestones and achievements, and learn how they can help you.