4 Simple Steps to Manage your Manager

Do you have a good working relationship with your manager?

Are you happy working with them?

Do you ever wish you could improve the relationship?

If you answered No, No and then Yes the following tips will help you improve your working relationship with your manager (and help you be happier and more successful in your job as a bonus!).

The relationship between you and your manager is more important than any other at work. Your manager is responsible for allocating tasks and projects, arranging team work and recommending rewards. However, they are not infallible - they are usually working under pressure (from their manager or business partners) and many do not have any formal training as a manager.

So what can you do to improve things?

Below are the four most important things you must do to effectively manage your manager.

And if you have any doubts about taking control just remember - it’s a two-way relationship and there is no rule that says you cannot take the initiative and change how you work together.

1. ACCEPT

That they have been given the power to direct your activities.

If you question their ability or style of management you will only things worse. Instead of criticising them accept the situation and find out how to increase your influence. This will produce a much better outcome.

Instead of being negative about their position turn it round and view your manager as someone who helps you get your job done. They have the power to get ou the resources you need, make decisions in your favour and recommend you for interesting projects, promotion or a pay rise.

Their differences.

We all have our own view of the world, defined by our values, beliefs and experiences. We readily accept differences in people we care about but find it harder with strangers and acquaintances. However, we can learn more from people who are different and challenge us in some way.

For example, you may be quite structured and organised at work and find your ‘just-in-time’ manager stressful and frustrating. Rather than being annoyed when they give you tasks at the last minute build some contingency into your day - and look even more efficient in the process!

2. OWN

At the heart of job satisfaction is a sense of ownership. After all, it is your job so, by taking responsibility, you will become happier and more successful. There are many ways that you can take ownership of the relationship with your manager. Try some (or all) of the following for a more successful working relationship:

Setting boundaries

We all need to know what boundaries we have to work within. If these boundaries are fuzzy, or moveable, it causes uncertainty. Talk to you manager and agree what (objectives) you will be doing, how (tasks) you will  complete the job and when it must be completed (timescales).

Make sure you both understand the detail such as the expected outputs, reporting lines and what you will be measured on to show success. You should also discuss how often you will both review your progress, (daily, weekly or monthly) and what will be discussed (e.g. tasks and activities or issues and solutions).

Respect your manager’s time

Your manager will always have other working relationships to manage (the team, their own manager, clients and colleagues) so do not expect them to prioritise your needs over everyone else. Instead find out when you can speak to them (see above) and book in meetings as you need them.

Prepare and summarise what you want to discuss including information they need (agree the format first), solutions to problems and next steps. That way the meetings will be brief, focussed and action driven. Also be willing to share your ideas about work with your manager - open up a discussion to hear what they think and learn about the business.

Always do your best work.

Simple! If you only give 50% it will be reflected in the way your manager relates to you. So it makes sense to work hard, give your best, take your job seriously (in an enjoyable way) and do what is expected of you.

When you accept an assignment - make sure you deliver quality results, if you go to a meeting - be prepared and if you have a problem - find a solution.

3. COMMUNICATE

Successful relationships thrive on good, honest communication and there is no exception here. There are many aspects to good communication (you can find more tools and tips here) but the most important aspects are:

Be clear.

When communication with your manager, speak and write in short sentences, use the fewest words possible to make your point easily understandable and avoid jargon.

No surprises, ever!

If something goes wrong at work and you are worried that the news will upset your manager, don’t use this as an excuse to wait. This is guaranteed to sour the relationship as it goes to the heart of trust and reliability. Tell them as soon as you can - preferably with a solution.

Give constructive feedback

Yes, you can and should give feedback to your manager and it is important to do it constructively: use facts and examples and avoid being personal (you can find more tools and tips here). If you think your manager has made a bad decision, suggest a better alternative with reasons why. However, if you can’t change their mind do your best to support them - regardless of whether you agree.

4. SUPPORT

In the same way that your manager is there to support you; you can show support for them. This doesn’t mean you have to turn into a ‘Yes’ person but you are a team and teams only succeed when the members work together to achieve their goal(s). You can show your support in many ways:

Build trust

Your manager needs to know that when you accept a task, you will deliver to the agreed criteria. If you fail to deliver on time, or produce poor quality work you will erode any confidence and trust they may have in you. What is worse is that, over time, this may affect your own self-confidence.

Never, ever, complain about your manager (especially to other people!)

Within the organisation you can build confidence in your team by showing that they have a strong, cohesive and co-operative work ethic. Criticising your manager to people outside the department, or other team members, will reflect negatively on the team as a whole. And if your manager finds out it will also damage your relationship.

Show appreciation

Managers hear lots of complaints, but few employees take the time to say ‘thank you’ or ‘good job’. If you take the time you can always find some quality (or work) worth praising. when you do mention it at some point. If you think you are ‘sucking up’ make sure that the compliment you are paying them is sincere and genuine.

The more you get to know your manager the better the relationship will be - for both of you. As well as working in a positive environment you will be able to anticipate each others needs and provide support when its needed.

There are so many more things you can do to make sure that your relationship with your manager is positive and productive for both of you. So be proactive - manage them and see the results!