Talent Development Centre

Building Relationships with People More Senior Than You

Building Relationships with People More Senior Than YouBuilding a relationship with any colleague can be challenging, especially if you don’t immediately click. Even more challenging can be building a relationship with somebody more senior than you. There are many different scenarios that this may come about, and we scoured the internet to ease you through three of them: Getting to know a new boss, building a relationship with a CIO, and managing people who are more senior than you.

Getting to Know Your New Boss

Having a positive relationship with a new boss is crucial for a successful contract.  This HBR article provides some helpful advice on dealing with a new boss coming into an organization that you’re already at:

  • Look for Common Ground: Try to find out who they are and what interests them before even meeting, using tools like LinkedIn.
  • Have some Empathy: Remember that they’re under a lot of pressure and, as much as they’d like to, getting to know you right away may not be possible. Give them space and it will be appreciated.
  • Don’t Lay it on Too Thick — or Too Thin: Good managers can spot a suck-up or political operator from a mile away, so don’t even bother.
  • Ask About Their Communication Style: Knowing how they like to receive communications and make decisions will prevent misunderstandings and help get work done faster.
  • Help Them Achieve Early Wins: Show you’re a team player by helping them get some wins.

Building a Relationship with a CIO

What about somebody who isn’t necessarily your boss, but the most senior in the organization. A recent Dice article provided 4 tips for building a relationship with a CIO which is a great start for building relationships with any C-level executive. Here’s a brief summary:

  • Have something to Say: Tech leaders are often looking for feedback and want to know those under them are thinking strategically.
  • Don’t complain without a solution: Refrain from armchair quarterbacking. If you don’t have a good solution, don’t bother the CIO with your complaints.
  • Keep Customers Happy: According to the article, “technology executives are paying increasing attention to how their department is perceived by end users inside and outside the company.”
  • IT is About More Than Tech: Show that you also bring business knowledge and soft skills to the table.

Managing Tech Pros with More Experience

It’s one thing to build a relationship with a senior technology professional who is above you in the hierarchy, but there are also times you need to manage people who have more experience than you. This provides more challenges. This Dice article helps with that task with these 3 simple tips:

  • Get Off on the Right Foot: Avoid throwing yourself at the team and barking orders, and watch out for “unintentional ego clipping.”
  • Ask for Advice: Older employees like to know that they are being consulted. Understand how the team works and don’t make any assumptions that can lead to a bad decision.
  • Share Knowledge and Context: Share knowledge with them so everybody can learn, and keep the in the loop to give context when things must change.

As a senior professional, these situations may seem simple and obvious; however, they can stress out junior IT professionals new to the work world. What additional advice would you give to them on this topic?

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