How To | Manage Your Manager
Did you know that one of the main reasons people leave organisations is their relationship with their manager? Surprising yet true.
There is no relationship more important to get right at work than the one you have with your direct line manager. They can make work fulfilling, exciting and help develop your career.
Conversly a negative relationship with them will make you, dread Monday morning, unhappy, stressed and potentially running for the door.
Your career is quite literally in this person’s hands, so it’s vital to get it right.
Luckily, it’s in your hands to create a good relationship from the outset. And don’t worry; even if you’ve worked with your manager for a while, most of the following suggestions can also apply to someone who wants to improve relations with their manager.
1. Be open to feedback
Nothing gives a manager a bigger sigh of relief than when an employee shows they can take constructive feedback. You’ve just made their life easier, and they’ll respect you for it. The feedback might even be useful too.
2. Ask them about your predecessor
‘Anything you particularly liked or disliked about the way Jamie or Jane did things?’ ‘Oh, he was brilliant, but was often late.’ Or, ‘I found she dithered and procrastinated on projects she wasn’t keen on’, or ‘I liked that she took the initiative yet always kept me in the loop.’
3. Identify their working style
Do they want everything in email, face to face or both? Long meetings or short? Are they impatient and short on time and pleasantries? If they write short, sharp emails, respond in kind- don’t waffle.
Also, note when their productive times of day are- do they get right into work as soon as they get in the door, or do they take the time to settle in? Match your style to theirs.
Remember some personalities don’t do chit chat and will find it irritating if you do.
4. Complete tasks and projects early
Even if only by a few hours, completing tasks before a deadline shows you are in full control. It also builds up trust and respect faster than anything else.
5. Back opinions up with facts
Don’t just say ‘I’ve heard it’s more efficient’- say ‘A study by Harvard business school shows it’s 60% more effective. Therefore I wonder if it’s worth considering; what do you think John?’
Opinions, especially if you are new, are respected when you share what you have based them on. Be that your observation of a process or data from a third party recognized resource
6. Admit when you’ve made an error
There’s just no other way to maintain respect. None of us likes to admit we have dropped the ball. Yet we are all human, and mistakes can and do happen unintentionally.
With authenticity and integrity being more important than ever, admit where you have gone wrong and notice how your relationship improves with your manager.
Important. Mistakes can be forgiven provided they aren’t happening consistently. If you have made an error ensure you take that onboard, skill up or practise the task or process to ensure it doesn’t happen again.
7. Keep them updated on projects.
If your manager is frequently asking for updates, it’s a sign that you’re not keeping them properly informed, and that they’re worried enough about your progress to check up on you. Even if your manager is more hands-off, be sure to say to them that ‘project’s going well- let me know if you want a progress report.’
This reassures them that you’ve made quantifiable progress and that they were right in trusting that you don’t need micromanagement.
8. Be 10 minutes early as a rule and dress smartly
This shouldn’t really need to be said, but for some reason, people still miss these ground rules of how to impress the boss. Most managers got to their respective roles by being a professional and committed, turning up early is a great way of demonstrating this.
Dress codes vary we know, and yet someone who makes more of an effort with their appearance in our ‘smart casual’ world makes an impression not only on their manager but others in the organisation too.
It communicates you are serious and that you have a personal brand.
It’s never too early or too late to create a healthy working relationship with your boss that’s based on mutual respect. Why not start today?