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Early Career Success Guide: How to Get Along With the Boss


Chances are, by the time you start your first “real” job, you’ve had bosses before. But what was appropriate at the ice cream stand or landscaping gig might not be OK in your new office environment. Even if you’ve had tons of internships and lots of practice dealing with corporate culture, expect a learning curve when you begin your first professional job. Every company and manager is different. If you want to be a success, you’ll need to learn how to adapt and communicate with your particular boss.


(Photo Credit: kennymatic/Flickr)

Here’s how.

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1. Start off by determining expectations.

“When you start your job, you almost certainly don’t know exactly what your responsibilities are at your new workplace,” writes Anne Krook, author of Now What Do I Say?: Practical Workplace Advice for Younger Women, in PayScale’s Guide to Early Career Success. “Interestingly, your boss may not know either, especially if he was not your hiring manager, or if you were allocated to her when she got new responsibilities through taking on new teams, or if you’re assigned to a brand-new project. Or her idea of your role may differ from yours, which is no way to start a new job. So the first thing to do is to sit down with your boss and get a preliminary understanding of what is expected of you in your new job.”

2. Figure out how she likes to communicate.

Some managers want a weekly check-in; others prefer a daily email, or a monthly report. Here, you can take your cues from how she communicates with you, but don’t be afraid to ask what she prefers.

Generally speaking, you’ll want to speak face-to-face or at least over the phone (if you or she work remotely) at regular intervals, to make sure that you’re on the same page. Getting it in writing is good for documenting what you’ve accomplished, but you’ll often get faster – and more thorough – answers if you have old-fashioned meetings once in a while.

3. Remember that she’s your boss, not your friend.

This is true even if, technically, you actually are friends outside of work. Now is not the time to start sharing your collection of off-color jokes or drinking stories from college.

In the office or out, you need to maintain a professional relationship with your boss. That means, as Krook points out, not drinking to excess, not sharing details of your personal life, and just generally behaving like a responsible, hardworking person.

For more of Anne Krook’s advice on building a good relationship with your boss, go here.

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Do you have a great boss? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.

Jen Hubley Luckwaldt
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