Have you ever heard the phrase “learn how to manage your manager“? I was confused the first time I heard this. Manage my manager? Shouldn’t he or she be managing me? As I worked through my college internships and jobs on campus, I tried to understand this concept.
Then I graduated college and entered the real world. I
quickly learned that if I was going to be successful in my first year of work,
I was going to need a good working relationship with my manager.
I realized that “managing your manager” meant you should build a good relationship with your manager so you have a mutual understanding of success and expectations.
Here is why
you should learn how to build a positive relationship with your manager:
- He or She can help get you to the next role in your career.
Or they can hold you back if he or she does not think you are performing in
- She or He can help you get a balanced work statement. Work
is not fun if you’re either overwhelmed or underwhelmed.
- She or he can help you pursue development opportunities.
Here are 10 Ways to Build a Positive Relationship With Your Manager
1. Learn your Manager’s Management
Style, then adapt to his or her style
Is your manager a micromanager or completely hands off? Does
your manager use intimidation, fear, or threats (coercive style) to manage the team?
Or does your manager focus on making people happy and avoid causing conflict
(affliative style)? Read more on 6 different management styles here.
Paying attention to how your manager approaches their
management style can help you figure out how to adapt to their style.
2. Learn Your Managers Definition of
Success for You and the Team
It’s important to understand and learn what success means to
your manager. By learning their goals for the team, you can work
to contribute to achieve those goals. For example, if your team’s sales
goals are to beat last year’s goals by 25%, what are you going to do to help
beat that goal?
3. Communicate Well
My best advice to learning how to communicate well to your
manager is to ask your manager how
frequently they would like to meet and the form of communication they prefer.
Some managers are only available on phone while other
managers prefer face to face meetings for 30 min a week. During my one on one
meetings, I give my manager an update of what projects I’m working on, where
I’m at on those projects, and if I need any help in areas of my work.
4. Provide Solutions Not More Problems
Your manager has his or her own work statement and other
people to manage. If you see a problem or roadblock at work, don’t be afraid to
bring attention to it. More importantly though, work to present a solution with
Your manager will (hopefully) be appreciative that you’ve
thought out the problem and a possible solution. Even if the solution isn’t
viable, showing that you are actively trying to resolve issues is a great way
to build trust in your manager/employee relationship.
5. See Your Manager as a Resource
I’ve always turned to my managers as a resource. Whether
it’s going to my manager to ask if they know anyone in their network for an
informational interview or to learn a new skill, my managers have always
pointed me in the right direction. Even if my managers didn’t know the answers,
they would connect me with someone who could speak to me about my interests.
6. Explain How You’re Best Managed:
Motivation, Work Style, and Communication
Are you motivated to achieve and tackle new challenges? Are
you motivated by power and gaining more influence in the work place? Or are you
motivated to belong and be accepted?
How you’re motivated
may determine your work style and how you communicate your accomplishments,
failures, and areas of opportunities.
Personally, I’m motivated
to achieve. I like to be working on different types of projects and seeing
the projects close out to completion. I also really enjoy it when my managers
let me perform but are there for me if I need support or coaching.
micromanagers before and it drove me crazy. (But I did learn how to manage a
micromanager) When it comes to communication, I prefer meeting face to face
once a week because I like developing a positive relationship with my manager
7. Perform Well/ Work hard
Though I inherently feel this way, a mentor once told me that a goal I should have in every job is to be
a top performer. Working hard at your job means respecting and meeting
deadlines. It means you respond to internal and external customers’ requests at
a timely manner and you let your team know when you need help.
8. Have a Positive Attitude
You’re manager will be more receptive to your requests,
suggestions, and feedback if you approach him or her with a positive attitude.
Even if you are new to your role or in the process of coming down the learning
curve, approaching your manager, team, and statement of work with a good
attitude will always be welcomed. Here’s a few tips on maintaining a positive attitude.
9. Make Your Manager Successful
By meeting or exceeding your goals and objectives, you help
your manager also meet or exceed their goals. Managers should help set you up
for success and you should also help them achieve overall team success.
One thing I strive to do is also be a resource for my
manager. I look to see what support she needs in her projects. Sometimes she
just needs a different perspective to approach her own projects while other
times she needs to offload the project to someone else.
10. Reiterate Your Understanding
If your manager ask you to complete a task or project, I
always advise to repeat back the request. Make sure you are understanding what
he or she is asking for so you can create clear goals and objectives. Never
assume what he or she needs and always just ask. By reiterating your
understanding of the task at hand, you’ll save yourself rework and time.
I hope you enjoyed these 10 tips to build a positive relationship with your manager!
I also wanted to share with you all my Cocovann Purse featured in the look. I love how you can take this purse to work and into the weekend!
Please let me know if you have any other career tips you’d like to hear about! Thank you for reading.
Photos: Holly Phan