A great assistant-boss relationship means effective communication, but sometimes those lines get crossed … and not in a good way. We all know what it’s like to go off on the wrong foot with our managers. It usually comes down to miscommunication, poor time management or incorrect assumptions that ultimately affect workplace productivity. However, it’s possible to avoid miscommunication and improve your relationship with your boss.
Here are eight ways to make sure you are always perceived as a dependable assistant who knows when and how to communicate well:
- Use templates. Templates are your best friends when you need the boss to approve or sign repeatedly. Most organisations already have templates for internal memos, requisition forms, casual leave forms, etc. However, if there is a recurring process that needs your boss’s approval, sign off or review and there is no official template, design one yourself.
- Proofread. Make sure your emails are properly written and proofread to avoid confusion. If your emails are error-free and grammatically correct, it is easier to read. Consider getting a paid grammar tool like Grammarly or if you can’t afford the paid version, install the free browser extension or use the site’s free version.
- Skip the chitchat. Converse only about work-related topics, especially in the morning, while you’re waiting for things to get done before your day even starts. Except your boss starts a conversation that is not work-related, avoid diving into personal matters in the mornings.
- Put everything in writing. Once it’s written, it’s hard to misunderstand the situation. Your boss may forget he issued an instruction and think you acted without his approval. This is the main reason memos are so effective—and necessary.
- Read between the lines. It’s critical to listen to the words your boss says, as well as the ones he doesn’t say while communicating. Pay attention to his tone of voice and hidden messages it may convey, as well as his body language. Understanding non-verbal communication cues will help you decipher what your boss is trying to say. For example, if your boss is angry, it doesn’t mean that he is angry at you maybe he’s just having a bad day or seeing things from a negative perspective because of a personal issue.
- Follow up. Don’t forget to follow up on assigned tasks. Don’t wait for him to ask for feedback. Even if the task is not completed, give him regular updates, so he knows you are on top of it. If something happens that will affect you meeting a deadline or completing a task, tell your boss right away. Otherwise, your boss might think that you are not meeting your responsibilities.
- Skip the assumptions. Never assume what your boss wants, thinks or feels. It’s better to communicate than find out things the hard way. Always ask for confirmation if you’re unsure about the plan of action.
- Summarise. When giving information to your boss, ensure that it is clear and concise. Even if you pile loads of documents in front of him for review, don’t expect him to remember everything down to the last detail. Add headings, bullet points or numbering where appropriate so he can quickly go over the information and get back to you if he needs further clarification.
- Speak your boss’s language. Occasionally, your boss will want to have “small talk” with you, when relaxing or during his downtime. This is the best time to “speak his language “, and how can you do so? Just look at his interests, hobbies, favourite movie, book, etc. And try to relate as best you can. If he is a Chelsea fan, bring up a couple of great players, what they achieved last season and their strengths. Or if she is a fashion addict interested in the latest fads and fashion trends, bring up what the celebs are wearing, discuss a designer’s new collection, hot shoes of the moment, etc. You can quickly build rapport and enhance communication this way.
10. Don’t Give the Appearance of Multitasking. When talking to your boss, don’t give the appearance of multitasking because it can convey that you’re not fully engaged in the conversation. If you keep checking your email, typing on your computer or doing other activities while talking to your boss, this will send a negative nonverbal message. Endeavour to avoid distraction during discussions; this suggestion is also applicable when talking to other individuals.
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