How to Manage Your Manager
by Jamie Radford
You might be thinking, but isn’t a manager supposed to manage me? Why would I want to manage my manager? A common complaint from employees is about the quality of their management. Also called “managing up”, managing your manager could help you if you’ve ever wished that you could change certain traits in your manager or certain aspects of their management. Believe it or not, the nature of the relationship between employee and manager is not determined only by the manager. There are actually a number of ways you can guide the relationship and mould it into something closer to the shape you’d like it to take.
Interestingly, in a Harvard Business Review article, Managing Your Boss, the authors recommend numerous ways to achieve it, while in their research they also discovered that it may seem like an unusual expectation from the company – to manage up – however the need to do it is very obvious. The way you manage your boss will directly impact your day to day working life and whether you leave the office breathing a sigh of relief, desperate to get to the pub or you walk out feeling fulfilled and generally optimistic.
Have you ever had any of these thoughts?
- Sometimes I feel anxious around my boss
- I don’t like to disagree with my boss
- I resent being micro-managed
- I wish I had more autonomy
- I wish I had less autonomy and more direction
- My boss and I tend to have power struggles
- I don’t usually share my ideas or opinions with my manager
If you found yourself nodding while reading any of these statements, it could be time to start managing your manager. Here are some tips on how to get started…
First things first, understand your manager
As a start, know your manager’s objectives, their strengths and weaknesses, their management style, their preferred working style, their pain points and what annoys them. Having a good understanding of the basics, will allow you to better manage your boss.
Find the right time
If you need to meet with your manager regularly, it’s a good idea to find a time that works best for them in terms of when they are most accessible and at ease. To do this, you’ll need to be aware of your boss’s usual daily schedule as a person, not as a diary, and when their mood is likely to be most amenable.
Know their stressors
Following on from the above point, by knowing your manager’s stressors and also being tuned into their stress levels and being aware of when they are under pressure, you can put yourself forward to take on some tasks. Stepping in at just the right moment regularly will help to build a stronger relationship with your manager and they will no doubt appreciate the conscious initiative.
Be sure to communicate clearly
By speaking, writing and communicating in short, precise sentences, using the least words possible to make a point, you’ll be making your manager’s job easier which in turn makes your job easier.
Provide solutions instead of complaining
There is surely nothing worse for a manager than an employee that is always complaining. Don’t complain unless you’ve tried to offer a solution for whatever you’re grumbling about.
Take charge of the relationship
Your manager has many responsibilities and by helping to take a few off their plate, it could immensely help them, but also complement your workload and potentially open you up for promotion.
Act as the manager
If your boss is unable to make certain decisions or they take extra long to do so, sometimes it’s good to make the decisions yourself. We all know it’s best to have manager approval on certain decisions, but if you are highly knowledgeable in your area, why not go ahead and pursue a direction that you ultimately know will achieve satisfactory results for the company?
Speak to your manager
This may be the most obvious one, but could easily be overlooked. If you’re not happy with some aspect of how you’re being managed, schedule a time to have a chat with your boss and let them know. Of course, be diplomatic and professional, but do let them know what you would appreciate more or less of. They will most likely respect the fact that you spoke up about your needs, instead of just accepting everything and then complaining behind their back.
I hope these tips have shed some light on how you can take steps to improve the working relationship with your boss, including the overall benefits that managing your manager can have.