How to build a productive and mutually beneficial relationship with your manager
Your manager is the single biggest factor in determining whether your working life is a joy or a misery. It is often said that people do not quit organisations, they quit bosses.
Being able to manage your manager is not about manipulating them, it is about understanding your manager’s needs, identifying their style of working and being able to communicate with them so you can complement their style.
Understanding your manager's needs
Realising the pressures that your manager is under is one of the hardest things to do. If you are able to anticipate what your managers needs are then you will understand how you can best spend your time helping them to fulfil these needs. It is easy to forget that the main reason why you got the job in the first place was because your manager thought you could help them to accomplish their goals and ambitions.
So how do you identify your manager’s needs? You can always use the direct approach and ask them what they need, but very often they will not be absolutely sure or their needs will change from day to day. By developing a “sixth sense” for identifying your manager’s needs you will naturally complement their style.
The first thing you must do is identify what type of manager you are working for. Throughout your career you are likely to work for a number of different managers, each with a different style of management. Do any of these types sound familiar? The perfectionist, the chaotic boss, the absentee boss, the aggressive boss. Most managers will display all these characteristics at some point in their career but generally speaking one or two of these characteristics dominate their behaviour.
For each type of behaviour there are ways to communicate and modify how you work to better accommodate your managers working style. Consider the following tips:
The perfectionist - Wants to be in control and will be reluctant to delegate work. They will want to work in an ordered environment with few interruptions. If you report to this type of manager frequently you will be recognising their need to feel in control but it is important that you agree a regular time for these meetings to minimise disrupting their working environment.
The chaotic boss - They will probably be unfocused or move from one idea to the next. The best way to identify their needs is to meet everyday and plan what tasks are crucial.
The absentee boss - Moves quickly from one task to another but is always disappearing to sort out a crisis. This type of manager will expect you to use your initiative. When trying to understand their needs you will have to be persistent in trying to get two-way communication.
The aggressive boss – May have outbursts when under stress. If this type of manager launches into a tirade, stand your ground and suggest a meeting later where you can explain how this type of behaviour is demotivating and upsetting.
The last word
Few managers set out to be bad bosses or make your life a misery. Most will probably be unaware of the impact their behaviour has on you. Most disagreements at work are the result of differences in working style rather than wildly different goals. Investing time in understanding what kind of manager you work for will help you to understand how to communicate with them effectively and prioritise your time.