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Starting a New Job? How to Build a Relationship With Your Manager

Starting a new job is exciting as it opens up more opportunities to network and advances your career! However, it can be nerve-wracking as you ask yourself: Will I like my boss? Will I get along with my coworkers? Will I find it both challenging and enjoyable? Over time, you will get answers to these important questions, don’t worry. Yet, my experience in onboarding and training new hires taught me that the biggest question you should ask is “what does onboarding process look like?”

Throughout my career, as I’ve transitioned from one job to the next, I’ve seen companies with solid, well-designed on-boarding process and companies that had no clue what to do. In the war for talent, companies shouldn’t underestimate the importance of a successful, intricately developed on-boarding plan for new hires because this process can greatly influence a new hire’s perspective of a company. If you read my previous article, you can understand the trauma dealing with a bad manager can have.

Here are some quick tips to help you start a new job on the right foot as well as some red flags to watch out for.

Before You Start

1. Connect with Your Manager- Reach out to your manager not just to express your excitement about the role but to ask if they can provide an itinerary (onboarding) plan to review. Also, be sure to ask if there is any additional you can do to prepare.

2. Continue to Research Your Company/Manager/Team: As a job seeker, you should be researching companies even before you apply, and don’t stop researching just because you get an offer. Keep tabs on your company’s social media posts, their engagement online as well as leveraging LinkedIn by reviewing profiles to give you a better sense of the professional backgrounds of your coworkers. Bonus! It allows gives you a chance to see who might be useful to add to your network.

After You Start

1. Connect with Your Manager (Again)- You want to do this in person in a one-on-one meeting and this isn’t the time to hold back either. Use this meeting to discuss your expectations as an employee, resources you need to do your job well, any concerns you have about the role, work-life balance, and how you two can work together to make the role a success.

2. Ask for a 30-60-90 Day Action Plan- What is this? A plan that outlines what your goals, objectives and tasks will look like over the short term start of your job. For example, who are you supposed to meet within the first 30 days? What are you suppose to learn or know after the first 60 days? I will admit, I never heard of this plan until one of my former bosses provided one for me. I loved it. As someone who likes to plan as much as possible, this gave me a framework toward achieving the goals my boss set out for me. Also, it showed how committed my boss was towards my employee development and success. If your boss doesn’t have one or doesn’t know what it is, then try creating one yourself and sharing it with your boss to get feedback. Trust me, it works.

Other Questions to Ask Your Boss

1. Who are the stakeholders I’m responsible for knowing?- Every role has stakeholders (i.e. coworkers, other leaders, and external/internal customers). You must know who these players are in order to build relationships and possibly find strong mentors to assist in your development.

2. How often should we connect?- I take one-on-one meetings with my leaders very seriously and I make it clear that I want to connect as often as possible to get critical feedback and other information. Don’t hesitate to tell your boss what your needs are in and make sure you both are on the same page.

3. What are additional tools for learning and development?- Some companies offer internal online trainings to help train employees’ skillsets and some companies will pay for external training (i.e. classes). While you can ask about this before accepting a job offer, ask it again after you start. You want to ensure your company is proactive when it comes to “skilling up” their internal talent.

I would be doing a disservice if I also didn’t include red flags because, as always there, are red flags to watch out for in new jobs.

1. Managers who don’t have an onboarding process of any kind- Onboarding plans don’t have to be fancy, but a manager should have one to provide some direction for new hires. If a manager doesn’t have this, I would seriously consider this a red flag.

2. Managers who don’t make it a point to meet with you- Managers should be excited that you are starting with them and should already have time set aside to meet with you. If they aren’t meeting with you, then you need to ask why.

3. Managers who don’t introduce you to key stakeholders in the company- Managers should be advocates for their employees and this advocacy should include making introductions to those who may help shape their careers. If a manager can’t or won’t do this, you can do this on your own, but it speaks volumes about the manager.

Now, of course, this list isn’t complete, but the purpose of this article is how to build a foundation towards having a strong working relationship with your boss. As someone who has had both good and bad managers, I’ve learned that doing this before, during, and after your onboarding can go a long way in your success at work.

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