One great piece of advice I got from Suzy Hay now Head of Business Development, iAd at Apple, back in the day when we were both working for Yahoo!, was that she suggested I made sure to have a one on one with my manager every now and then to specifically talk about what she or he wanted me to do.
And I’m not talking about “do your project x work” or “make sure x is delivered on time and within budget”. Whilst these are perfectly reasonable things, you should talk with your manager about, what I’m trying to get at is that you should take time to find out what he/she really wants you to do.
This has proven to be a very effective means of getting to a great relationship with the people I worked for.
Some of the more surprising answers I got over the years include “I want you to help make X look good in her new role…”, “I would love to see you made a greater effort to join our corporate events”, “I will get you fired if you submit another travel request for some “phony” conference in Vegas” actual quote – still got to go to Vegas so.
I know that most of you probably have scheduled review meetings with your managers, but these more often then not coincide with bonus reviews and career development talks – and whilst all of these are good tools – in moderation one might want to add, these kind of talks are way too official to get real questions answered.
Go ahead and try it yourself. You will experience first hand how powerful this question is. “Hey XXX, what do you really want me to do?”