Best Practices to Develop a Meaningful Relationship with your Manager

Published on Feb 16, 2021

28 min read

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Welcome to ManagersClub. This is Vidal Graupera. Today I have something different to share.

What follows is a transcript including a Q&A of my talk “Best Practices to Develop a Meaningful Relationship with your Manager” presented at the IEEE Rising Stars Conference in January 2021. IEEE Rising Stars is a conference designed to inform, excite, enthuse, and enlighten top engineering young professionals and students. The moderator was Alison Klima. I’ve done some audio editing on this version. At the bottom, I’ve included a link to the unedited original video. I hope you enjoy it.


Alison: [00:42] Good afternoon, everyone. Thank you for tuning in to this session on best practices to develop a meaningful relationship with your manager. Just a reminder that if you have any questions, please post them in the Q & A tab, and we’ll get to as many of them as possible. At the end of the presentation, I have the privilege of introducing your speaker for this session Vidal Graupera.

Vidal has worked as an engineering manager at Uber, Autodesk, and Walmart Labs. And he’s currently an engineering manager at LinkedIn. He hosts a popular ManagersClub, website, and podcast, where you can find interviews with successful engineering leaders and managers. He has also co-authored a number of books on the subject. So I’m really looking forward to this talk Vidal, I’ll hand it over to you.

Vidal: [01:24] Thank you. Thank you, Alison. Hi again, my name is Vidal Graupera. Happy New Year. And thanks for taking the time to come here today, to listen to my talk best practices to develop a meaningful relationship with your manager. This is my first time giving this presentation, and I hope you’ll find it useful.

Here’s what I intend to cover in the next 30 minutes or so we’ll go over: a little bit of introduction, how to think about this topic, one-on-one meetings, how to ask for feedback, how to manage up, manage out, how to manage yourself, and some bonus tips, and then we’ll have some time for Q & A.

So a little bit about me and my mission. So I remember being a member of the IEEE when I was early in my career also. And as Alison said, I currently worked at LinkedIn as a frontline engineering manager. I live in the San Francisco Bay area, and I’ve worked at a lot of major corporations, Walmart, Autodesk, Uber. And during that time, I’ve had a bunch of managers and also being a manager for multiple teams. So I intend to share with you what I think works. Your mileage may vary because each manager and situation is different and unique. And I have not figured this out a hundred percent myself, but I’ve learned a bunch of lessons along the way.

I also run a website on engineering management practices at managersclub.com. So I’ve studied this a bit and looked into it. My focus here is going to be on working with engineering managers, but this may apply to other fields as well. 

Why is this important?

Vidal: [2:51] So, first of all, why is this important? If your manager’s not your champion, If you don’t have a good relationship with your manager, your career will suffer. And so I can tell you from personal experience I’ve had that happen, and I don’t want it to happen to you.

So specifically, your engineering manager writes your performance review. They determine your raises. That’s very important. Your manager has tremendous influence over your workplace stress your work assignments. They hold the key to your advancement within the company, or sometimes outside as well because, let’s say you’re applying for a new job. People will always want to get a referral or speak with your previous manager if possible. So you want to be in their good books to get a good referral. You’re most likely to get promotions and raises if you’re viewed positively. And finally, you’ll just get better feedback from your manager if you have a good relationship with them.

How should you think about this relationship with your manager? I believe you should think of your manager, more like a sports team coach than a judge. Their job is to get the team better results and for the company to win. So like a professional sports team manager, they have to make a lot of tough decisions. They have to develop their players. They have to recruit new players and members of the team. 

Don’t wait for your manager to have a great relationship with you. I think it’s up to you to make the best of the relationship. Look, not everyone is a great manager. Unfortunately, a lot of people are just figuring it out as they go. They’ve been thrust into management. They’ve gotten very little training in management. Most people get like none. Ultimately you will benefit or suffer as a result of the relationship with your manager more than they will. So I think the burden is on you to try to make the relationship as best as possible. Understand that like you, they’re busy. They have a lot on their mind. They probably have things they can’t even share with you that are confidential. 

So it is helpful to understand their point of view of you and your team. And finally, remember that your manager is a human being too. They have good days. They have bad days. They get stressed They have personal issues. They’re trying to get promoted just like you. They make mistakes. It’s actually a very hard job. It’s not as easy as it looks. So one thing I’d recommend is just getting to know your manager as a person. Ask them, how are you? And while you can not be best friends with your manager, you need to make an effort to get to know them on a human level to build a better relationship with them.

One-on-one Meetings

Vidal: [5:41] I want to talk about one-on-one meetings. This is a huge, massive topic. I could give a whole talk just on this, but this is the key. The one-on-one meeting is the key to the relationship with your manager. It’s one of the most important meetings you will have all week. If you don’t have a regular one-on-one meeting with your manager, this is not good.

You need to get one started or get another manager because you’re not going to go far without one in my opinion. A regularly scheduled 30-minute once-a-week one-on-one is normal. And I really recommend that you don’t skip them. And if your manager cancels or skips them regularly, that’s not a good sign.

More on one-on-ones. Don’t assume that your manager knows how to run a good one-on-one meeting because they may not have gotten much training in it. They might be new to management. A lot of the burden on you will be to make sure the meeting is run well. The number one goal of the one-on-one meeting should be to build an effective working relationship with your manager, establish open communication with them.

Keep your manager informed. 

Align on priorities for this week, this sprint, this quarter, this year those priorities might not be what you think or what other people have told you. Okay. You could be working very hard but wasting your time entirely on things that your manager doesn’t think are important. It’s important to check with them on priorities. 

You can also obviously get performance feedback and define your career growth plans. I think you should own the agenda. For the one-on-one meeting, this is one less thing your manager has to deal with. You should come super prepared for all your one-on-ones. I think that makes just a very good impression. I know it does for me when a direct report comes very well-prepared to one-on-one. I keep a running shared Google doc with my manager, where we keep track of what topics we’re going to talk about and action items. I think it’s super valuable. Again, this time is valuable, so don’t waste it.

I know that some people also send written summaries to their manager every week of what they’ve accomplished. So that kind of removes some of the need to update status. A one-on-one meeting should not be a one-to-one status report, but oftentimes it can become that, especially if your manager is not that much aware of what you’re doing so having those reports is a useful tool for some people. 

If your manager has asked you to work on any special project or research anything. Absolutely you should report to them during the one-on-one on the progress of that activity. This demonstrates accountability and professionalism. Finally, I’ll say you should always try to keep the trust of your manager, maintain the confidentiality of everything that they tell you in one-on-ones. I’ve had times in the past where I’ve told something to a direct report, confidential on a one-on-one only later to find out that they shared it with someone else, and that really destroyed the trust. Don’t do that at all. 

Now you may ask, okay, the onus is on me to run the meeting. What can I even ask? So if you have no ideas, here are some questions you can ask to gain useful information from your manager. 

  • Again, how are you? 
  • What’s been on your mind this week? 
  • What’s your biggest worry right now? 
  • What am I doing well, and why? 
  • What skills should I improve? 
  • What are your peers working on? 
  • How do you decide which meetings to attend might give you some idea of what’s important to them? 
  • How would you approach selling a new candidate to our team, and what can I do to help you or the team?

So being helpful it’s a good way to be and be seen.

Asking for Feedback And Receiving It

Vidal: [8:51] I will talk a little bit about asking for feedback. Feedback is an important thing for us in one-on-ones and all times. So let me touch a little bit on this. First of all, don’t wait for your manager to offer feedback. It’s better to get the feedback now than in a performance review for the first time and be surprised. Always ask for honesty over niceness. So just say, listen, just tell me the truth, and that’s what I want to hear. 

I recommend asking for specific feedback, not generic feedback because if you ask for generic feedback, it can be a little bit awkward. It’s let me think, what is the pattern here? Maybe they have to like, think about this generic feedback. I think it’s much easier to ask your manager for some timely, specific feedback on something that just happened. For example, what did you think of my presentation today? What do you think of this feature we just delivered? I think this is a lot easier for them to give you concrete feedback and is just better.

Now when you get feedback from your manager, I think it’s important to ask clarifying questions. That’s totally fine. It’s really great if you can write down what they say. If you take notes during one-on-ones, that’s also considered a best practice, so that’s good. Let me say this. You should accept the feedback. Okay. Even if you don’t agree with it, doesn’t matter. It’s not a time to argue back. You should accept it because the reality is — perception is often the reality. If this is how you’re perceived, then you need to work on that. You need to work on being perceived the way you want to be perceived.

You should follow up on any feedback that you get because if you follow up on the feedback, then you will encourage more feedback. Similarly, accepting the feedback will encourage more feedback as opposed to resisting it. So be open to feedback, accept that as a gift. Know that most people aren’t that way, but be thankful. Don’t resist it. It’s a good thing.

Managing Up

Vidal: [10:41] I want to talk a little about managing up. Again, as I said, if the manager’s not your champion, your career will suffer. What are some thoughts on managing up? You should put yourself in your manager’s shoes, understand what their priorities are, and help them achieve the priorities. Try to understand the big picture of what your group or team, or company is trying to do. It is really helpful if you can understand your manager’s manager.

This is a great thing to do when you have a skip-level meeting with your manager’s manager, try to understand what is the performance of your manager dependent on. Is it maybe the output of the team? Is it some employee survey result, department goals, retention goals, uptime, net promoter score, sales goal, hiring goals, shipping certain projects, etc., so find out what those goals are so you know where to focus and be helpful in meeting those goals. So what does your performance mean in the eyes of your manager? It’s maybe helping to meet those goals. 

Another thing you should know is how to best communicate with your manager. Not all managers are the same. Some managers are super technical. They want to get deep in the weeds and the details of things, so you might bring them many technical topics to discuss. Others want to talk more about strategic matters. They want to talk more about sales marketing. You should try to quickly understand how they like to be communicated to do they like email, Slack. Do they want you to call them, come see them?

Try and also understand the mode of communication they like. If you’re sending them an email, try not to write a novel because managers, just like everyone else, are totally overwhelmed by emails. So just try to give them the TLDR; whenever possible. And finally, you should proactively communicate any kind of schedule change, anything that’s important. They should know that’s happened. Super important to be very proactive in that.

I’ll say one more thing about managing up. I believe you should be loyal to your manager. Try not to keep work-related secrets from your manager. If someone is bad-mouthing and your manager, you should probably let them know, and you should never bad mouth your manager. They will find out. And finally, on this topic, I would be extremely cautious about giving any critical feedback on your current manager to anyone.

Common Mistakes

Vidal: [12:57] Now, since we’re talking about managing up, I also want to talk about some common mistakes I’ve seen that can sabotage your relationship with your manager. And basically, you don’t want to create extra work for your manager. You don’t want to be high maintenance. There’s always a high-maintenance person on the team and you don’t want to be that problem child. Managers most of them care about delivery execution. So follow through, so your manager doesn’t have to spend time following up with you on things, it’s annoying, and it’s just negative energy.

Schedule the meetings, make tickets for your stuff, keep all your tickets and status up to date. So no one has to chase you for it. Be a good writer, write meeting minutes. Write your self eval. Write your own promo packet. It’s much easier for your manager to work with that and give you comments than to create it from scratch.

When you ask your manager to review a document, check it for spelling and grammar errors. It allows them to focus on higher level content and not be distracted by writing errors and things. 

And here’s a big one. Software engineering is a team sport. So be a team player. Don’t create conflict with team members or with other teams. Don’t embarrass or rip on other people, their proposals, or their code, because this generates a lot of headaches for your manager that needed to repair. And you don’t want to be the one damaging relationships that they have to repair. Stay above office politics and gossip. Don’t hang around with bad company, and negative people.

When you meet with your manager, don’t bring every problem to them to solve. Come with your own plans, options, and solutions, to get things back on track, and ask for their feedback if a goal won’t be met. Volunteer to solve your manager’s problems. 

Another thing, don’t be the one that’s always complaining about company policies. They might not agree with the policy either but they can’t say so. And so if the policy is come from on high, then there’s probably not much that you can do about it. Don’t be the one that’s always complaining about them. 

Don’t make your manager look bad or lose face by questioning your manager in public, correcting them, disagreeing with them publicly, is just not good. Always keep them informed. Never go around the chain of command. I’ve seen this many times where people send emails or have conversations around the chain of command, and it always backfires. Always backfires. So if you’re going to go around the chain of command because you don’t agree, you always need to keep your managing informed. Hey, this is what I’m going to do. I’m going to send this note, so there are no surprises. 

And finally, we’re going to be out of the office taking time off, always let your manager know. It’s the most annoying thing when someone comes to you and says, Hey, where’s “so and so,” and you’re like I don’t know! Always let your manager know if you’re not going to be available.

Managing Out

Vidal: [15:50] I want to talk a lot about managing out. So it’s really important to work well with your team members. Like I said, software engineering is a team sport, and collaborating has the benefit that will help make your manager’s job easier. You’ll be solving problems they might otherwise not need to attend to because you were creating relationships and negotiations with other teams. If you can set up meetings and all that, that’s really great. Managers really care about relationships, and they have to maintain relationships. They operate in the realm of people more than code, and this is very different from ICs. So be attuned to relationships, talk to your manager about relationships, always foster good relationships, negotiate. Diffuse conflicts where possible. This shows great leadership, teamwork, and management potential. 

You should find ways to build relationships across your company. Join employee resource groups, go to cross-functional trainings, organizational social activities, beer bashes, hiring committees, technical committees, steering committees. Some people don’t like to go to these events because they’re very busy working, but they have a big benefit that you can create connections outside your immediate team. And finally, say thank you a lot. Send thank-you notes. Thank-you emails, awards to people outside your team that will help foster good relationships with them.

Manage yourself

Manage yourself. You should work on the key priorities that you’ve agreed with your manager. If your manager asked you to do something, it’s always good to say yes. And then deprioritize something else because if your manager is directly asking you to do something is probably very important. You should be good at time management. Keep your commitments, be reliable, be known as an employee who regularly meets deadlines. Pay attention at meetings. Listen, put down your laptop and your phone, pay attention. Take the initiative with your own career, find mentors, get their advice, read books, go to conferences, do everything you can to learn how to develop your own career not just only asking your manager for that. 

You should attempt to be a model employee. Be really good at your job. Execution matters. Show a good work ethic. Do more than expected go the extra mile offer to cover meetings, share findings, be good at leadership. Your manager will much appreciate if you can do things like this. And to reflect well on you and the entire team. And if the team does well, everybody wins, the manager is seen well, you’re seen well. So it’s very important to do well, take responsibility for any mistakes you make, look, and act professional. And if you can do these things, then you and your manager and focus on higher-level things. You don’t need to focus on the low-level things of why maybe things are broken or were not delivered. You can focus on more strategic things, which is very important.

Bonus Ideas

Vidal: [18:36] I’ll share a couple of bonus ideas. I think it’s very important to be positive, to be seen as being positive, be a willing learner. Suggest process improvements, do things to create team efficiency, reduce errors, reduce tech debt, build morale, et cetera, step up to run meetings. So one of the things is managers always want the team to run smoothly so anything that you can do to help the team run smoothly not only reflects credit on you but helps everyone. So, for example, increase team morale any way you can. It’s good for everyone. Offer to train people. One of the critical functions of an engineering manager is to hire. So if you can help with hiring, providing referrals, interviewing, this helps a lot and will be much appreciated.

So I know there was a lot of material. That’s what I had today. Thanks again for taking the time to be here. This is where you can reach out to me. If you want to talk more as my email address at LinkedIn, my LinkedIn profile, you can connect with me there or follow me on Twitter, and I will be posting a copy of this deck on my website managersclub.com shortly.

Thank you.


Questions and Answers

Alison: [19:45] Great. Thank you so much, Vidal. We do have a couple of questions if you’re good to answer those. The first one here being, if you feel like you’re falling behind or struggling in your role, what is a good way to approach your concerns and asking for support from your manager?

Vidal: [20:06] I think, for example, like if you’re struggling with a certain skill, I would ask if your manager knows someone who’s really good in that skill. Okay. Say, like I’m having a little bit of trouble with whatever. Do you know some people who are good at this? Cause managers talk, and they know who the high performers are in the organization.

They know people who are very good at things and say who’s really good in this area that I could talk to and then go. Talk with that person, and get ideas from them on how to improve. So that’d be like the first thing I’d asked for is for a referral to someone who’s very strong in what you’re weak in.

Alison: [20:40] All right. Here’s another one**. Do you have any advice on how to pitch a weekly one-on-one meeting with your managers?** So you don’t have one set up right now, or they’re not into that idea.

Vidal: [20:51] I would talk with them. I would say, “I think it would be really helpful for us to meet regularly so we could align on priorities.” I have questions, and yeah, I would start from that, but I think it would benefit the team. We’ll be able to get more done. It’d be more efficient. But, if your manager’s not really into it, that’s going to be troubling in my opinion, but I would pitch it.

People are always interested in, what’s in it for them, so you pitch to them that it’s going to help them to meet with you and to meet with other members of the team too because that’s going to give them kind of a heads up on, on issues and problems. So I would try to pitch a little more like how it’s going to help them to start this process and encourage them to look into it. You’ve heard about it that it’s a good practice.

Alison: [21:38] Great. All right. Here’s another one. Is it okay to ask for feedback on a regular basis? I don’t want to come across as insecure about the work I do yet. I’d like to know if my work is up to expectations or not meeting standards.

Vidal: [21:51] I think it’s totally fine. 

I had people that at every one-on- one asked me for feedback, and I asked for feedback a lot, too, from my manager. Sometimes there just isn’t new feedback to give. But I think it’s totally fine. I don’t think it comes across as needy because the job of the manager is to provide feedback, coaching to ultimately evaluate and rate you so you can get better and the team can do better. 

I think it’s totally fine. You should ask. Don’t be afraid to ask. Here is the thing. They already have an opinion of you whether you know it or not. Maybe some people are afraid to ask cause they don’t want to hear the answer, but you should ask.

Alison: [22:29] Great. All right. Another one**. Do you have any examples of experienced with experiences with poor managers that you were able to overcome?**

Vidal: [22:39] I think my mistake and my learning has been I thought I could overcome poor managers and persevere. And I think I stuck with managers longer than I should have in parts of my career. So I think if I had to do it over again, I probably would have switched in a couple of scenarios, switched teams sooner rather than later. So I think it’s tough.

If the manager doesn’t know much about management, maybe this is their first time as a manager. Well, you can give them the benefit of the doubt. Maybe they will learn and improve. But if they’ve been a manager for a long time and things aren’t working out. Well, that’s another story…

If you and the manager are not really clicking, if you can’t trust them, if there’s something off in the relationship that is, that’s really hard to deal with, and maybe you can’t fix that.

Alison: [23:26] Yeah. So here’s another one on feedback. What if my manager never has any constructive feedback? It’s always, “you’re doing a great job. Keep it up.” And you’re like, that, how is that going to help me in my development? How do I get them to give more constructive feedback?

Vidal: [23:41] Okay. So if they’re just saying, Oh, you’re doing a great job, then ask them, “how could this be perfect?” This was a question suggested to me by someone else. So it’s not is this thing good? What’s keeping us from being perfect? So you might say that presentation was pretty good. You were happy with it, but what would it have taken for it to be perfect — the best presentation ever because nothing is ever perfect. So this might give you some idea if they just give feedback like that. “Oh, it’s all good. It’s all good.” What would it take for it to have been next-level would be where I would start to identify because it can’t really have been perfect.

Alison: [24:16] That’s good. What advice or tips would you have for engineers thinking about going into management?

Is there anything we can do to prepare ourselves to be better managers?

Vidal: [24:26] Yeah, firstly, you should understand why you want to be a manager because it’s a totally different job. You’re working in the realm of people and relationships, so you should enjoy that. You should enjoy that aspect of working like through other people.

So I would say if you’re interested in being a manager, maybe start by being a tech lead. A lot of people start from being a tech lead and executing stuff through other engineers. So I would start with that to prepare yourself. You can certainly read a lot. There’s a lot of management books now. There are websites and stuff like mine, where you can read about what it’s like talk to people who are managers. 

But I would say go into it for the right reason. Don’t go into it just because you think it, it pays more, or something. Going into it because it’s something you’re interested in. Be a tech lead. Start with that.

Alison: [25:12] Great. Here’s another one from the audience. When facing several technical challenges, I’ve noticed higher levels of conflict during open discussions. Should this be addressed, or should we simply consider it natural due to the dynamic of fast-moving teams?

Vidal: [25:28] Conflicts are normal. A difference of opinion is normal. And you’ll find that. I think the problem is when it’s no longer constructive, right? So you need like a lots of companies like Amazon, they have this whole concept of “disagree and commit.” It could be there’s two different approaches and half the people think we should use this technology and half think was used the other technology.

So at some point someone just has to disagree and commit to go in a certain direction and then go with it and not try to undermine the other people because you do want to have; again, it’s a team sport. And so when we make a decision, we all want to go in that direction. Just get all the disagreements on the table. Yes, not everyone’s always going to be happy, but that’s what I suggest, but yeah, these conflicts are normal. You just want them to resolve.

Alison: [26:14] Right. Sometimes it’s easier said than done, that’s for sure.

Vidal: [26:19] Yeah, totally. The whole realm of people and people management is way easier said than done, right?

Alison: [26:27] No, that’s good. You mentioned mentors. What if my company doesn’t have a mentor program? How about getting one, or what do I look for? Or how do I ask somebody to be a mentor? Or does, is, would you be my mentor? Not something you’re actually supposed to say, and it’s more of a natural progression, right?

Vidal: [26:44] I think it’s more like a natural progression. So yes, some companies don’t have a formal program. So then just find people who are good at something right. Or are more senior than you. And just say, Hey, could we just have coffee? Do you have breakfast? We have lunch.

I want to ask you your advice on something, right? And then, if that goes well, then maybe you can meet with them again. And you say, Hey, could I ask you some other advice? And sometimes you’ll find the person if you’ve connected with them and you’re asking good questions, it benefits them too, to think about these things and they’ll go Hey, if you want to talk again that’s the best way, right? You reach out to him, and you say, “Hey, can I talk to you about this thing?” And they go, “okay, sure.” And then you talk with them, and at the end, the conversation has gone well, and then they go, if you want to talk again, just feel free to reach out, and you, okay, cool. And then later you reach out again, and you make, you organically go into it. I think that works well. And I’ve done that many times with people.

Alison: [27:45] Yeah, I guess it’s more like, how do I get started? Or find that person or go ask my manager for some recommendations on people.

Vidal: [27:52] You definitely could. I think that it’s a fine thing to ask your manager for recommendations because managers know who are the high performers in the organization. So you might say who’s a high performer, who’s really good at a certain thing, and you might go to and say, “Hey, I heard you’re really good at, I don’t know, giving presentations or you’re really good at product management or design or whatever it is this person is. Could I like pick your brain for a little while” and they go, okay, sure. And then you talk to them about it. You ask them your questions. What would you do in this scenario? And it made you really good at making budgets. I’m having trouble making a budget. Could you help me look over this budget I’m making or whatever it is? And you start from there. Just find someone who’s good at that area.

Alison: [28:35] Great. Thank you. Another one from the audience, how can you tell if your manager doesn’t like you? Or if you know that they don’t like you, what can you do to improve that?

Vidal: [28:45] Oh, they don’t like you? I think you’d know. I would think, if they don’t like you, you might also hear from other people, right? If they’re like saying things about you when you’re not there, yeah. If they don’t like you, that’s troubling because that’s maybe you haven’t built any kind of connection with them on a personal level. But yeah, if ultimately they don’t like you, that’s not going to be good. So you might need to find a place to move on because it’s just not going to work out for you in the end.

Alison: [29:13] Yeah. I guess sometimes your manager was not necessarily the person that hired you either.

They could have come into your team. And so now you’re starting from scratch from somebody. Who just joined your team and now you have to start this new relationship with this person. Yeah, I could see that being difficult.

Vidal: [29:28] Yeah, but the managers should be very professional, it shouldn’t be like, I don’t like you for very personal reasons, so that’s wrong, but I guess I don’t understand like, why didn’t like you, right? It’s something that you said something that, what happened here, but if it’s not something you can easily fix, if it’s some kind of bias or prejudice, that’d be the worst case, right?

If they’re biased against you because of your race, your sex, your ethnicity, something like that, then that’s a big problem. But I guess trying to understand…

Alison: [29:55] Yeah. I know we went over this at the beginning of your presentation, but a couple of people might’ve been late. Would you be able to just paraphrase cause some key elements to include in a one-on-one discussion if you’re not already having them. You wanting to set them up.

Vidal: [30:10] Yeah, I would start with maybe a little bit of an update, share with your manager, maybe things that they don’t know about, like different than say an update on a project, you might tell them about some good thing that happened, that they wouldn’t know about otherwise. Hey, I had a conversation with this person, and they said our team is doing amazing. Or, did you know about a certain thing? So I might like, just start with a little bit of that. You could start a little bit of a personal update as well.

Yeah, definitely want to close on something about career, if you want, something about skills you could develop, career progression, stuff like that. That’s usually more like at the end of the one-on-one you can talk about that. So I would just start out with a little bit of what topics you have, questions you have on things, and maybe any asks that you have Hey do you know someone who’s really good in this area or something? That’s what I’m trying to do.

And then, the manager, you should have a couple of things. It will be like, your section at the beginning. Ideally, it’s you go first. There’s your section, and then there’s the manager section. They’ll have stuff they want to go over with you. And at the end, if there’s time, you can talk about things like feedback. You can ask for feedback, right? At the end, you can say, Hey, do you have any feedback for me on a certain thing? So I think that’s the general flow: your section, manager section, and then feedback, closing section.

Alison: [31:26] Yeah. I will say just working from home for the last nine months, we’ve also had the personal note, like, how are you actually doing as a person? I want to know how you are because I don’t see you at my desk or in the hall just to be like, how was your weekend? So my, my, my one-on-one on Mondays, so I always get the weekend update. Really nice.

Vidal: [31:44] Yeah. I think that’s really good because yes, you can’t walk by someone’s desk anymore. You can’t meet them at the coffee bar and say, Hey, how’s it going? Or meet them in the lunchroom. So I think the one-on-one is very important for that. So, I totally agree with you this asks them, how are you really doing.

Alison: [31:59] Yeah. Yeah. And listening for that answer, too, right?

Vidal: [32:04] Yeah. I find it super, super important cause I really care about my people, so I don’t really know how they’re doing. And this is one opportunity one-on-one no one else on the call where you can ask that, and hopefully, they’ll tell you.

Alison: [32:16] Great. I think I just have one last question. I don’t see any more in the chat unless one comes in here is how should I deal with negative feedback without taking it personally? You said not to react to it, way take it, digest it, and then you go about not taking it too personally?

Vidal: [32:36] Don’t take it personally. It could be wrong, but the thing is it’s the perception, right? So you take the feedback, you don’t argue, you go, okay. So this is how I’m being perceived by this person. Are other people perceiving me this way too? Cause a lot of times, the manager will give you feedback that it’s not just them, but other people in the team are seeing a certain thing. It could be a misunderstanding, but nevertheless, you should try to address that. 

Don’t take it personally. It’s again, it’s for your benefit that people are giving you this feedback. I tell that to people when I give them hard feedback. So I’m gonna say, “I’m not doing this to upset you because that’s not my goal. I’m giving this to you so you can actually improve and do better. This is where I’m coming from, but I know this might be upsetting to hear, but are you’re okay with that?” And so just coming from that place when it’s hard feedback.

Alison: [33:26] Great. All right. It looks like we got one more here on the chat is how would you approach navigating your relationship with your manager in an internship versus full-time? Would they be different approaches? The same approach?

Vidal: [33:37] I think it’d be the same, obviously at the end of the internship, the goal of most interns is to get a job offer. So it’s like a summer-long job interview to a degree.

You just want to be positive. You want to be doing your work. Curious. have a good relationship with them, get along with people. So no, I think it’s a lot the same to talk to their manager. There, I guess the one difference there is you are so junior as an intern. You can ask a lot more questions about career advice, guidance because you don’t know anything. 

So you can be like, Hey, teach me stuff, managers enjoy doing that. So you maybe, so maybe that’d be a little different, you can enroll your manager a little bit more as like a teacher if you want. You want to make a good impression on them.

Alison: [34:22] Great. I appreciate that all of these questions that you’ve answered. That looks like all the questions that they had and I had I think that’s going to conclude our presentation. So thank you so much again for being part of IEEE Rising Stars this year. And we will talk to you too. Thank you so much.

Vidal: [34:36] A pleasure to be here.

Link to original Vimeo recoding of the session.


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