5 Tips To Manage Your Manager

Mark Freire

23rd August 2017

How good is your relationship with your manager?

If it is anything less than strong – then there is probably work to do. Afterall, your manager is a key individual in your working life. They can be smoothing your pathway to success, or just as easily become a major obstacle to your progress.

If you and your manager fail to see eye-to-eye, then the problem might not just be with them. It could also be you. Learning how to manage your own manager is a key skill – and once you have perfected it, your working life may never be the same again.

Here are our top 5 tips for getting the most from your manager.

1. Try to understand their motivations.

What makes your manager tick? Why do they do the things that they do? What are they trying to achieve? Getting into the mind of your manager will give you brand new insight into their decisions and rationale. You could try telepathy, but simply asking might be easier. So the next time you don’t understand a decision, just ask. But pick your time, demanding answers in the middle of a meeting or in front of the team may not be the quickest way to build a relationship.

It can also pay to keep a close eye on company news and communications. Many managers will themselves be responding to their own managers, so understanding what is coming down from the top can give you a key insight into local decision making.

2. Understand what doesn’t work for you.

Ask yourself this question – what is your manager actually doing wrong? When you think about it, there are probably only a few core obstacles which are making the relationship difficult. Understanding what these obstacles are will be the first step to removing them.

In some cases it may be you that needs to change. Adapting your expectations or learning to accommodate your managers’ habits could make your life much easier. In other cases you may need to tell your manager exactly what is causing a problem for you, and what you would like them to do to correct the issue.

Sometimes your manager probably feels they can’t do anything right. When in fact, it might just be a few things they do that is really putting the relationship on edge. Write yourself a list of what your manager is doing that really doesn’t work for you – and place them in a list of most annoying first.

Getting a handle on the main ‘barriers’ to the relationship is the first step to removing them. In some cases you may need to be a little more tolerant or avoid certain situations, and in other cases you may need to tell your manager exactly what is causing an issue for you.

Either way, ticking off those triggers is bound to make your long term relationship stronger.

3. Prepare your feedback.

Most manager issues come down to communication. When upset or under pressure, you may not be making your point of view clear. This is where preparing your feedback can be important.

In any meeting that involves your manager, try to stick to the script. If you have specific points you want to raise, then write them down beforehand and tick them off during the meeting. If you hear something you don’t like, then bide your time. A well thought out response after the meeting is always better than just saying what first pops into your head during the meeting.

Giving your manager clear communication will allow them to give you clear and structured feedback in return.

4. Be clear with reporting

The biggest complaint about managers is that they are either far too hands-on and micromanaging, or far too hands-off and disconnected from your work. In both cases, a solid line of reporting can help bridge the gap.

Ask your manager what information they want to receive about your work and how often – and then stick to the schedule. The reliable flow of information will reassure your manager that you are in control of your work and will give them an evolving connection to your workflow and any upcoming problems or opportunities.

They will also be able to see your progress and achievements over time, which can only be a good thing next time there is a promotion of salary review in the offing.

5. Talk openly about your career aspirations

Your career is your responsibility but having your manager onside with your career development is important. If you are being overlooked for new opportunities, then it might not be because your manager doesn’t think you are capable. They may simply believe that you are content with your current position or too valuable to shift. From a manager’s’ perspective, if things are working well, then why change them?

You can shift this thinking by making it clear that you are keen to progress. Use your one-to-one’s and review meetings to ask what you need to do to move to the next level or take new responsibilities. Likewise if you see a problem which needs solving, draw your managers attention to it and then volunteer to solve it.

If you are always pushing yourself forward in the eyes of your manager, then when a new opportunity arises you will be first in line to take it.

Of course, there is always the possibility that you simply have a bad manager who is not invested in your progression and wellbeing. In which case, a more radical solution may be needed.

If you have exhausted all other options, then a change of company or role may be the best way forward. We currently have hundreds of roles available across London and beyond – from junior level, right through to senior. To talk to one of our consultants about your career options and to find out how much you are worth, simply get in touch on 020 7426 9835