How to make the most of your time with the boss:

“These conversations aren’t just about tasks and things to get done, they’re also an opportunity for you to connect with your boss and improve the relationship,” career coach Hallie Crawford said. “In addition to concrete or tangible goals you want to accomplish during the meeting, you can also have a soft goal, like building more of a relationship.”

Here’s how to get the most out of meetings with your boss.

If you’re the one initiating the meeting, Crawford suggested making the request by email, which includes a brief bulleted list of what you want to discuss and your available time slots.

“You want to make it easier for them to plan with you,” she said, adding that you don’t want to cram too many talking points into a meeting.

The agenda will not only help keep the discussion on track, but it will also help your boss prepare for the meeting.

“It could be five to seven topics depending on how many topics you have to talk to each of the topics in an hour,” Crawford said. “If you only ask for half an hour, it could be three to five subjects. But 10 things…that’s probably not realistic.”

If your boss requests the meeting, you can confirm and request additional information.

“Answer: ‘Yes, I would love to, that would be great. Are there any particular topics you want to discuss so that I can be prepared?’ Find out what’s on your boss’ agenda, but also create your own agenda,” said Mary Abbajay, President and CEO of Careerstone Group.

Keep things on track

Print or write down your list of topics to remind yourself of everything you want to cover. If you called the meeting, it is your responsibility to keep track of the time and get things done.

If your boss starts to drift off topic, Abbajay recommended saying something like, “Oh, that’s really interesting, but can I come back to this topic for a second? I want to make sure I’m clear. “

“You have to gently and diplomatically acknowledge what they’re saying, and then say to yourself, ‘Before the time is up, I really need to talk about those three things.'”

But also be ready to pivot

While you may have an agenda, your boss may have more pressing priorities to discuss, so be prepared to change direction.

If your manager seems to keep coming back to Project X, but you were hoping to talk about Project Y and your time is tight, Crawford suggested saying, “I notice we only have 15 minutes left and I’d really like I wish I could talk about project Y. What’s best for you? Should we keep talking about X?”

be specific

If you’re looking for feedback during the meeting, don’t just ask broadly how you’re doing, but try something more specific like, “Feedback for me on Project X? I’m particularly wondering what you thought of the intro.” Abbajay recommended.

It's Revision Season: Here's How to Talk to Your Boss

“Get feedback on your work products…and also on your overall performance.”

And if the comments aren’t glowing, Abbajay advised avoiding getting defensive and asking clarifying questions like, “Tell me more about how it could have been better” or ” Where did I go wrong?” or “What would you recommend I do next on this project?”

Don’t be afraid to ask for help

Do not hesitate to ask for advice on a project you are working on.

“Sometimes we’re afraid to ask for help for fear of looking incompetent, but if we fail in the project…because we didn’t ask for help, that’s even worse” , said Amy Cooper Hakim, an industrial and organizational psychology practitioner and workplace specialist.

To address the issue, she suggested saying something like, “I’ve worked well on some aspects of this project, but I’m stuck here and would like your input so I can make sure I address this. in a way that will be most useful to the team.”

Don’t be afraid to get a little personal

While you want the conversation to stay on track, you also want it to feel organic. You can start with pleasantries like asking about family, weekend plans, or upcoming vacations.

And at some point during the conversation, Abbajay suggested asking the boss about his priorities and concerns.

“Employees do well when they do about 70% of themselves and 30% of what the boss needs,” she said. “The more you can understand what’s going on with your boss and what their pressures and stressors are, the more you can find ways to become even more valuable to that person and help you stand out.”

When closing the conversation, Abbajay suggests asking your boss what you can do more of, less of, or differently to be of greater help or assistance.

Don’t forget to follow

During the meeting, you should take notes on important talking points and then send a recap email with follow-up action items or feedback.

“Create an electronic paper trail,” Cooper Hakim said. “It can help the boss remember and you make sure that everything you communicated and what she communicated to you was received appropriately and understood in the same way.”

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