I get so many questions from clients about the difficulties they have with their manager and what they can do about it. While every situation is different and sometimes you have to walk away, here are some hints to help you manage your boss, even when you have a great relationship.
1. Understand your manager's communication style: How does your manager prefer to communicate - email, phone calls, or face-to-face meetings? When is the best time to talk to them – in the mornings, later in the week or over coffee? How do they like information to be given to them – short summary, longer analysis, or a mix of both depending on the subject? Do they like a full debrief or a quick update? Do they like an informal catch-up, or do you need a scheduled session on a regular basis? Do they like to know about potential issues early, or when they are more likely to happen?
2. Communicate effectively: No manager likes surprises so communication is key to your relationship with your boss. Keep your manager regularly informed of your progress (but see the hint above), ask for feedback, and be open to constructive criticism.
3. Be proactive: Try to anticipate your manager’s needs and take action before they ask. This could include staying on top of deadlines, keeping them informed of important developments, and finding ways to improve processes or solve problems before they become issues. Remember, one of the quickest ways to undermine your managers confidence in you is for them to hear about an issue that you are responsible for from a peer or their manager.
4. Build a balanced relationship: If possible and if you feel comfortable doing so, make an effort to get to know them on a personal level and find common interests or values that you share. This is a very effective way to build mutual trust and rapport with your boss.
5. Manage expectations: Be clear about what you can deliver and when. Set realistic timelines for projects, communicate any obstacles or delays early on, and under promise and over deliver!
6. Be solution-oriented: When problems arise, don’t hide them from your manager but make sure you offer potential solutions. Your boss may not agree or have different solutions, but the fact that you are thinking of solutions shows you are proactive and focused on achieving results.
Managing the relationship with your manager is like any other important relationship you have. Try to build a positive relationship based on trust and open communication. By understanding your boss's communication style, being proactive, managing expectations, communicating effectively, and being solution-oriented, you can create a successful working relationship with them.
How can you help your manager, to help you?