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How (and why) to manage your manager! Part 2

How (and why) to manage your manager! Part 2

Welcome to the second part of our latest blog. In this instalment, we discuss some more actions you can take to get the best out of your manager, and to help them get the best out of you. If you happened upon this blog and have not yet read part one, you can find a link to it at the bottom of this page. 

If you've got a problem with them, talk to them about it first

Any relationship has its ups and downs and our relationship with our manager is no different. But in the event of a falling-out, respect your manager enough to give them a chance to understand how you feel and to resolve the issue with you before you share your frustrations with others.

We all feel betrayed when our relationship problems become everyone else's news before we've had a chance to resolve them. Trust is the single most important currency you have with your manager, and it's hard to rebuild it once lost.

Don't be shy about your expertise

Your manager does not know everything. Don't mistake their seniority for expertise.

If they're at all sensible, your manager hired you because you're better than they are at something. Unless you're right at the start of your career (and not always even then) you've likely been hired because your knowledge and skills can contribute to an overall effort.

So without being arrogant or patronising about it, give your manager the insight they want and need from you. In a similar vein, if you bring fresh ideas and a different perspective to the table, or have a passion for something that could benefit the team (for example, technology or social media) tell your manager.

Choose your time and place

Not everyone appreciates being "called out" in a meeting, so if you know that your boss is wrong about something, create a respectful, one-to-one forum where you can communicate this to them in a professional way. A good manager will listen to you, but if they still persist in pursuing a path you don't think is the best option, it's still your job to back them up (within reason!).

It's important to pick your battles. The more you get to know your manager, the more likely you are to learn when their mind is set on a course, or when you may be able to suggest a different tack.

If you're not sure, say so

Be honest about the limits of your knowledge while making it clear that you're open to learning more. Don't take it personally when your manager discusses your areas for improvement with you; their manager is having the same conversation with them, and we all have areas for improvement. The key is in whether you treat these as opportunities to improve or as a problem to hide or avoid.

Communicate without anger

I'm willing to bet most of us have regrets about things we've said in anger when we could instead have slept on it, taken a walk to cool off, thought about how we want to communicate, and then done so in a more professional manner.

This is true of how you speak to your manager. They will empathise more, and be far more able to work with you on a resolution, if you articulate your problems in a calm and collected way. This can include requests for a pay rise or further training. A meeting about what you need to do to earn a pay rise is much better than an emotional plea for one because you feel you deserve it or your rent has increased, or because you're incensed that your team mate has just (mistakenly) shared their much higher salary with you.

Bring a solutions-based approach to problems

One sure-fire way to win your manager's good favour is to suggest solutions to problems rather than simply complain about them. In fact, if you repeatedly do this, you could well find yourself being asked to take on more, create a task force to tackle an issue and so on – perhaps even leading to a promotion. Provided you still manage your day job well, of course!

Exhibit these qualities...

To paraphrase a piece that I've seen on various LinkedIn accounts and in blogs and articles over the years, things that require no real talent include:

Being on time
Willingness to learn
Good work ethic
Positive body language
Energy
Positive attitude

If you exhibit all of these, you've got a very good chance of being a great employee, and of getting the best out of your manager, because you'll be giving them all the things they need from you.

I must make a special reference to timekeeping. Being late just isn't on. Sometimes it's unavoidable, but repeat offenders shouldn't be surprised if they get short shrift from their manager, because lateness sends out a message to the team that you don't really care.

Know when to quit

You can't win them all. If you feel you're being managed badly, are getting nowhere despite your best efforts, or are trying your hardest with your manager but still feel frustrated and unappreciated to the point where it's keeping you awake at night, maybe it's time to move on.

After all, a poor relationship with our manager is one of the most common reasons why people leave a job, just as a great one probably keeps a lot of people in a job they could otherwise happily leave.

And on that note, coming soon to this site is a blog about how to know when you're being managed well. So watch this space!

- Helen Floor, Managing Director, 1-1 Recruitment

Read part 1 of this blog here

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