Top 5 Tips: The Insiders Guide to Bosses
Updated: Feb 25
Ahhh bosses....how some we love and some we loathe. What's the phrase you can't pick your family but you can choose your friends? Same goes for your managers. We have no say as it "way above our pay grade".
HOW TO MANAGE YOUR MANAGER
Sometimes the easiest thing is to manage up. Work out how your boss ticks, their expectations and meet them before they ask. How tho? How do I do this, I hear you ask? Well well well....through experience most of the time but I have some tips for you.
TIP 1: MANAGE YOUR MANAGERS EXPECTATIONS
Have you both sat down and discussed what's expected of you? What objectives and deliverables you have? Equally, what you expect of your manager? Do you like to be left to your own devices and shout when you need support? Having a relationship with your manager is no different from any other relationship in your life. No one is a mind reader (otherwise we might be in a better job), so layout these expectations. It allows for better communication if the boundaries are crossed.
TIP 2: WORK!
Do your job and what you are paid to do. Your manager isn't stupid and/or deaf/blind. If you are totally winging it, turning up to meetings unprepared and not engaging with your team, they will know. Gossip is a common thing in workplaces (never going to get away from that), so do your job. If you want to progress and climb the jungle gym of your career, you are going to have to work and move to get there.
TIP 3: SPEAK FACTUALLY
Take examples of issues or problems. Some managers don't have emotional intelligence so being factual removes the emotion out of this. rather than saying "I think", "I feel", "When this happens it made me feel", too emotional and lacks the weight. No one can argue with facts and figures. Rather than going over what happened and why it had an effect on you, turn it around how should the situation have been handled if it was to happen again.
TIP 4: BE SOLUTION BASED
Come up with a few different solutions. In the book How to Stop Worrying and Start Living by Dale Carnegie, he suggests using this technique for analysing worry, and you can adapt this methodology to any situation.
Write out and answer the following questions:
What is the problem?
What are the causes of the problem?
What are the possible solutions?
What is the best possible solution?
If you come to a problem with a couple of solutions. You look like you've already done your diligence and you are proactive. This will not only impress your manager with the foresight to come up with solutions but will give them confidence that when problems/issues/situations occur, you are up for the task and know the methodology you use to tackle these problems. Plus if you can't find a solution, but share what your thought process was with your manager then it will be more brainstorming and sometimes talking it through and speaking out loud will give you the lightbulb moments you need.
TIP 5: DEADLINES & OPENNESS
Keep to your deadlines and don't be a secret squirrel. Your manager wants confidence you will deliver. For instance, that report has to be done every Monday. Finish it on Friday. Send it dead early, "Always Under Promise and Over Deliver". If you know you can get something done by Wednesday, say Friday when defining deadlines. So you have two days wiggle room and if you can, send it on Thursday, a day before. If you are struggling with a deadline or you know a customer might escalate something. Tell your manager, no one likes surprises and it means your manager can then also be proactive and highlight things or support you by calling a customer and cooling the situation. this doesn't show a sign of weakness this is a massive sign of strength and courage.
If none of the above is working with your manager, as well, they are just the worst. Then look for another job, somewhere better and you never know, with a better salary.
If you can't look for another job and the one you have fits with your needs and requirements for part-time or late arrival to drop the kids at school etc, then look into your HR processes around grievances, it's not a fun option to take, but if you really want to stay where you are and make things different in your office, it has to be highlighted. Follow tip 3 and 4. Be evidence-based, use the terminology in any staff handbook, have emails or note down the conversations, where, when and what was said.
If you're at a complete loose end contact ACAS ( Acas helpline number is 0300 123 1100. It is available Monday to Friday 8 am-6 pm) for my UK readers. If you are anywhere else in the world, just look up employment advice in google and there are some great websites with contact details.
Remember, it's not just your manager that can progress your career, it's the network around you, so make sure you build this up, help people out where you can and be professional when you deal with anyone in your business or industry. You never know where they might be in a few years (maybe your boss).
Good luck with managing up. Love to hear your thoughts and questions if you have any.
Don't forget Mission You offers Executive Coaching for £12 per session to help with you progressing your career and helping you realise your goals.