Bridge Insights

Need Help in the Workplace? These 4 Tips Will Help You Start a Conversation With Your Supervisor

Jul 16, 2021

Speaking up in the workplace can be hard. It is natural to feel nervous when expressing your opinion, sharing your ideas, or requesting support from management. It can be intimidating to ask your supervisor for help. You don’t want to send the message that you are in over your head or somehow failed at the task at hand.

The fact of the matter is your manager is a resource and relying on them for support when things get tough is exactly what they’re there for. Even still, when you do need to reach out, there are certain steps to follow to ensure your voice is heard:

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1. Schedule a Meeting

Even though your manager may have an open-door policy, you still want to ensure you have your supervisor’s full attention. Schedule a one-on-one, closed-door meeting with your supervisor. Not only will this ensure you have your manager’s full attention, but you’re also guaranteeing that you have the time and privacy to address your needs in a more focused and confidential setting.

2. Prepare and Think about Your Desired Outcome

Before your meeting, take some time to prepare. Think about what you plan on saying during the meeting and how you plan on saying it. The goal is to have a dialogue with your manager –not talk at them for 30 minutes. It helps to be transparent and reiterate your desire to overcome your challenges as a means of improving individual/team performance.

3. Tone Matters

In addition to what you want to say, you’ll want to think about how you’re going to say it. Words matter. Tone, inflection, and word choice can make or break how your message is received. Do your best to take any subtext or room for misinterpretation off the table.

Be objective when you speak; resist the urge to complain or speak negatively about your experience thus far. It’s okay to communicate that you’re frustrated, but keep the focus on your desire to improve/your need for additional support.

4. Bring Solutions. Not Problems.

As part of your preparation, put yourself in your manager’s shoes. Your supervisor may know a bit about the nature of your concerns, but you are the expert. For them, it is a lot easier to participate in the conversation if you come prepared with solutions, ideas, and suggestions on how you and your boss can work together to find a resolution.

Showing initiative helps you get your point across –especially when it comes to improving your performance in the workplace. Coming prepared with potential resolutions also communicates that you are accountable for yourself professionally and you don’t expect your supervisor to hold your hand and solve your problems for you.

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The Importance of Asking for Help

Asking for support at work can be intimidating, but if you’re struggling at work, your supervisor needs to know. Remember, they can’t support you if they are not aware you need support.

Furthermore, reaching out shows you’re invested in growing with and supporting your employer. You don’t work in a bubble; chances are your challenges are affecting more than just you. Businesses need the help of their employees to improve their processes and build a welcoming and positive company culture. Speaking with your manager and giving your feedback and insight can help create an environment conducive to learning and success!