Whether you’re speaking with your current boss in your annual review or your future boss in an interview, there is one very powerful question that will help you set yourself apart, make your boss feel grateful for your being around, and set you up for success over the coming year.The question?
Ask your boss: “How can I help you get a gold star on your review next year?”
I’ve been testing this question with the 4.5 mm subscribers to my weekly newsletter for high-end professionals over the last two years. Time and time again, these super-powered professionals come back and let me know just how much of an impact this question has on their career. Here’s one:
I actually just tried it during a phone interview with an internal audit director and it really caught him off guard in the best sense possible. After taking a few seconds to gather his thoughts, he actually came out and said that it’s the first time in his career someone brought a question to the interview that went in the direction of what can a person do for the department rather than what can the department do for them.
Why is this question so powerful? Why does it cause people in power to look at you in a new light?
The goal in any human organisation is to make your boss successful. That’s how she or he gets promoted, that’s how you get rewards, that’s how you know that you’re doing the right thing in your organisation.
So by asking this question, you will learn how to help your boss be successful, which means that you’ll be clued in to what’s top on their agenda. And when you make sure that you’re pulling in the right direction, that means the organisation is going to see you as an especially valuable asset to its success.
Bosses are human. OK, not always, but most of the time. And just like any human being going through the rat race we call “employment” it can be a tiring, exhausting, nerve-wracking mess.
By showing that you’re here to help out, not just help yourself, you’re changing how you’re viewed from being just another mouth to feed to being somebody whose goals and motivations are aligned with theirs. You’re setting yourself apart as somebody who will balance their own needs with the needs of others. And you’re showing that you’re committed to making your boss successful. Who doesn’t like that on their team?
You’re showing empathy. As Mary Kay Ash, the founder of Mary Kay cosmetics said:
“Pretend that every single person you meet has a sign around his or her neck that says, ‘Make me feel important. Not only will you succeed in sales, you will succeed in life.”
Just the mere fact that you are polite and considerate enough to ask this question shows that you have empathy for your boss and his or her situation; that you think their concerns are important. And that is a great way to build a relationship.
Good luck with this powerful question, and let me know how it goes in the comments!
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