Engaging your manager in a “How can I be the most helpful?” Conversation is one of the best things you can do to set yourself up for a promotion, accelerate your career trajectory, and make the biggest, most powerful contribution to your employer.
Asking to have this conversation will also will also be music to your supervisor’s ears.
Two of the things supervisors over the years have told me they most long for from their direct reports are:
1. A “How can I help you?” attitude versus a “What can you do for me?”
2. A willingness to hear feedback on how they can improve.
“How can I be the most helpful?” Conversations enable you to satisfy both those desires.
In the rest of this article, you’ll find questions to help your “How can I be most helpful?” Conversation provide you with the information you need to make the biggest, most significant contribution, and…become more promotable.
How to Frame the Conversation
To make bringing up this conversation as easy and natural as possible, you can simply say something like:
“I was reading an article on how to make the biggest possible contribution to your supervisor and employer’s goals and wanted to make sure I am focusing on the activities that make the biggest contribution to your goals and your company’s or organization’s goals. Can we set up some time to go over this?”
Questions to Ask During the “How can I help?” Conversation
“What organizational goals have the biggest impact on our team’s work and where we as a team need to put our attention?”
What is most important to you for our team to accomplish this year? (Alternately you could ask “Related to your goals for us this year…am I correct in thinking that what’s most important to you this year are _______?”
“I want to make sure I’m focusing my attention on the things that are most important to you and your goals. My understanding is that the things I can be doing to make the biggest contribution are state your understanding. Am I on track or do I need to shift my priorities?”
“What’s one thing you would like to see me start doing that would make the biggest difference in my ability to be helpful to you?”
“What’s the one thing you would like to see me STOP doing that would make the biggest difference in my ability to be helpful to you?”
“What’s the one thing that you really like that I do, that you would like to have me do more of?”
“Is there something that I’m not doing that you would really like me to do?”
Don’t Make It a One Time Event
Engaging your supervisor in a “How can I be the most helpful?” Conversation can be a game-changer both in terms of your ability to provide maximum value and to grow professionally.
After you get the information you need from your supervisor, create a game plan—or at the very least, a list--to keep you focused on doing those most valuable activities. Use it to assess, and stay focused on, how you are allocating your time and energy.
If the personal feedback you received from your supervisor involves developing new, more productive habits, or the development of new skills, create a professional development plan to help you address those areas and stay on track. Share this with your supervisor.
Check in every now and then for updates on this question and for your progress in utilizing your supervisor’s feedback.
Believe me, if you do this, your supervisor will love you for it and you will love the impact it can make in your job and career.