When you think about those monthly check-ins with your boss, it’s the standing invite on your calendar that likely brews both excitement and anxiety. Even so, being in constant communication with the person who will help you meet your professional goals should always be a priority.

One way to take the heat off of these 30-day mind melds is to come in with a plan, according to motivational speaker and workplace expert Amy Cooper Hakim, Ph.D.

“Some employees wait for feedback or direction from the manager, and assume that ‘no news is good news.’ But in fact, that is not always so,” she said. “To be safe, it is best to have consistent, regular dialogue to ensure that needs are being met in both directions.”

Here, then, is some month-by-month fodder that will build trust, rapport, and loyalty with your boss:

January: The one about focus

Especially if you’re on the East Coast, coming back to work after a long winter’s cat nap over the holidays is a drag. Not only is it usually freezing outside, but fewer hours of daytime mean you barely catch a glimpse of the sun. Hakim says many employees struggle during this season, so it’s extra important to get clear with your manager about the goals of the quarter so you can stay focused and perform at your highest level, even if you’d rather stay at home instead.

“It is easy to get overwhelmed by work, so knowing what to prioritize will help you to focus your energy where it counts. And, without asking, you may be spinning your wheels on a project that really should be placed on the back burner,” Hakim says.

February: The one about prioritizing.

Since some folks don’t consider Valentine’s Day a holiday worth celebrating, February often feels like the official end to the holiday season, where everyone Read More Here