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Building rapport with a Kiwi boss

Jenny was recruited from Scotland where she had relevant experience in a very similar organisation.  She was used to orderly systems and clear reporting lines. Jenny was keen to prove herself and to find her feet in the New Zealand organisation.

Jenny joined another manager with a large team and soon plans were made to split the team so she would have her own team. When the team split was achieved Jenny found herself disappointed that the split didn’t seem altogether fair. Jenny wondered whether she had been taken advantage of and what she needed to do to build rapport with her boss who was stretched and rarely available. She also needed to get her own direct reports to commit to regular meetings with her without attempting to change agreed times or to postpone.

Catching the attention of the boss for the right reasons
With the help of her coach Jenny thought about how she could build rapport with her boss. She decided to prepare some brief good news stories that she could tell so as to catch the attention of her boss and let her see that she was not focussed just on problems. Jenny also thought about how best to gain the respect of the team and decided to be very clear about her commitment to the team and the expectations she had of them.

Claiming achievements
She met with each team member individually and cleared the air and found that the team responded to this approach. Soon after this Jenny needed to complete her first six month performance review. Since this process was handled differently in Scotland Jenny was hesitant to claim her own achievements. She discovered new ways of describing what she had done which she regarded as “just doing my job”. She wrote up her successful recruitments as a leadership competency. In August, nine months after her arrival, Jenny received a very positive performance review.

Naming the competency to work on
Jenny then identified confronting direct reports as an area she wanted to become more skilled in. She realised that sometimes she preferred to avoid conflict and paperwork hassles and so tended to let things drift. She planned how to approach two different team members and decided what she needed to say and the steps involved in communicating with them. She then took action. Two months later Jenny was transferred to manage another team with a much wider role. With her coach she listed her achievements since her arrival and thought about how she intended to present herself to the new team. Jenny is now regarded as a very strong performer in the management group.

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