No work relationship is as vital as the one between an employee and his or her manager. It dictates so many factors of an employee’s work life: scheduling, workload, larger professional objectives, and more. But many employees believe that they’re powerless to influence these elements and assume they’re entirely at their manager’s whim.
This is absolutely not the case. Proactivity is the key to managing a manager, and an employee who pays attention and takes initiative can reap the rewards and have more power over their day. Want to get out from under a top-down management approach? Follow this advice on how to manage your manager:
Master Your Manager’s Style
Is your manager a morning person, or does she stay into the night? Does your manager offer updates in conversation or via e-mailed memos? Does she run a tight ship, or is her style characterized by small talk and humorous asides?
Answering these questions can provide key insights into how best to manage your manager. While you do not need to mirror your manager’s office behavior perfectly, understanding how she operates will help you to tailor your interactions and to achieve the results that you want.
If your boss is an early bird, it will be advantageous to present your questions and updates early in the day. If she’s a consummate e-mailer, encapsulate your business in a succinct note to which she can then respond. If she’s a schmoozer, keep your exchanges casual to ensure that your questions are answered and your points are made.
In understanding these points about your manager, you, the staffer, is in a stronger position to push your projects through and to meet your professional needs. At the same time you will be ensuring the comfort of your manager, which will only strengthen your relationship.
Know Your Manager’s Needs
Understanding what your manager is up against in the workplace can give you insight into your interactions with him. If you can, pay attention to his deadlines and know when he is more and less busy. Better yet, get familiar with his projects.
All of this can help you to insert yourself in a useful way into your manager’s day. Offering to pitch in on a report you know he’s toiling over or making the lunch run on a day you know he’s facing a major deadline establishes you as an employee worth watching. You can render yourself indispensable this way and prime yourself for success when you need your manager to sign off on an idea. Chances are that he’ll remember how you pitched in to help out when he found himself in a pinch.
Make No-Brainers of Your Best Ideas
Do you have a project that you’re anxious to push through? Have an initiative you’re itching to launch? Managing your manager effectively means priming the pump, which is to say, pitching your ideas in ways that are easy for your boss to say “yes” to.
To do this you should perfect your pitch and inspire positive thoughts around it. A perfect pitch to a manager who’s strapped for time is brief, clear, and doable.
You can help your case by presenting your new idea to the boss only when you’ve drilled it down to a single, distinct thought. Convey your idea without too much preamble or justification; this suggests that it’s well thought out and easy to initiate. Show your boss that you can deliver on its promise by presenting it expertly and concisely.
One key in getting the go-ahead for your idea is to begin with the benefits. If you can quickly communicate how your new project will help the business, your boss will be likelier to push it through. As everyone on a staff benefits from enhanced productivity and improvements in business, to pitch your idea in terms of how it will drive your department’s success is a surefire way to get your manager on board.
Overall, managing your manager means remaining flexible. By opening your eyes and ears to how he or she operates, and by communicating your thoughts and ideas as clearly as you can, you prime yourself for success. Enabling a manager to worry less over your performance is a benefit that definitely goes both ways.