As more and more companies allow remote work options, virtual communication becomes increasingly important. Colleagues seldom see each other in person, so they must develop other ways of communicating clearly. Messages that might have previously been sent through body language or the other person’s energy must be relayed via other means.

This can be a big adjustment for everyone, but presents a special challenge for new employees. It is not unusual today for a new hire to never meet their supervisor; they must build and maintain the relationship completely virtually.

Establishing a strong rapport with your supervisor is crucial for productivity, growth and career success. In this blog, we will explore strategies for getting support from–and building a relationship with–your supervisor, even if you are never in the same city.

Communicate Regularly

Without the benefit of in-person speaking, it is vital to maintain regular and consistent communication. Ask for regular meetings or informal check-ins with your supervisor. Bring an agenda so you remember to bring up all the topics on your mind. Use video conferencing tools like Zoom, Teams or Google Meet so you can at least see each other’s facial expressions.

Outside of these formal connections, promptly respond to emails, messages and requests to demonstrate your reliability and commitment. And don’t be afraid to reach out via telephone for a quick question.

Set Clear Expectations

Virtual work environments can often blur boundaries between work and one’s personal life. To avoid misunderstandings or miscommunications, also share any changes in deadlines and deliverables. This ensures you have a shared understanding of priorities and work requirements.

Demonstrate Initiative and Independence

In a virtual setting, supervisors may not see what you are doing to the extent they would in a shared office space. Set their mind at ease that you are on task; take the initiative to provide updates on your projects, progress and accomplishments frequently. Proactively share updates, reports or relevant information without being asked, showing your commitment and dedication to your job.

Seek and Give Feedback

Constructive feedback is essential to growth and improvement, especially in a remote work scenario where you can feel isolated from major business happenings. Actively seek feedback from your supervisor and seize any opportunities to enhance your performance.

Give feedback to your supervisor as well, highlighting successes, challenges and areas where you feel additional support would help you succeed. By fostering a culture of open and honest sharing, you build a foundation of trust and mutual learning.

Show Empathy and Build Rapport

Building a strong relationship with your supervisor–remote or on-site–goes beyond work-related discussions. To build a more personal connection, take the time to learn about their interests, background and values. Ask how their spouse and children are doing. Find common ground, such as a sports team you both support or a movie you both saw recently.

Demonstrating empathy and actively listening can help create a deeper bond and understanding.

Leverage Virtual Collaboration Tools

Utilize various virtual collaboration tools such as

  • project management software,
  • cloud storage platforms and
  • instant messaging platforms

to enhance your capacity to work together effectively. These tools not only streamline workflows but also provide your supervisor with visibility into your progress and contributions.

While building a relationship with your supervisor may seem challenging in a virtual setting, with proactivity and commitment, it is possible to establish a strong rapport that fosters support and growth.

By investing time and effort into nurturing the connection, you can build a solid foundation for professional success, growth and camaraderie, even when physically distant.

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