6 Steps to Thriving at Work: Step 2


Dealing With Managers

Your boss is not your mother, confessor, babysitter, therapist, career counselor, or even necessarily your friend. Your boss is, however, still the boss. And that means your job–and professional success-depends on your meeting his or her expectations. The term “managing up” refers to taking responsibility for making your relationship a productive one. Here’s how to do it:

Match Your Boss’ Style

Focus on Your Boss’ Priorities

Communicate, Communicate, Communicate

Match Your Boss’ Style

In order to work well with your boss is to learn how he or she works. Sometimes, unfortunately, managerial preferences aren’t so easy to discern. That’s when you need to use your people-reading skills and careful observation to figure out what she wants and when she wants it.

By determining your boss’ work style and preferences, you will better be able to fulfill her expectations and even anticipate what she’ll ask for next. Not only will you work better together and achieve more, your achievements are more likely to be noticed.

Focus on Your Boss’ priorities

If you haven’t already had a conversation with your boss about your work priorities, do so. But don’t stop there; often it’s the unspoken priorities that are the most critical.

Find out what’s important to your boss by watching how she spends her time. Does she sit on a lot of interdepartmental task forces? Does she spend most of her day on customer calls? Or is she a multimedia whiz who always has the slickest presentation at the management staff meeting? These clues will help you determine how she operates–and how you should, too.

On a larger scale, figure out what your boss’ long-term career goals are and help her achieve them. One of the surest ways to increase your value in your boss’ eyes is to make her look good to her supervisor. How? Determine what she needs to take the next forward in her career, and she’ll most likely see to it that you take the next step in yours.

Communicate, Communicate, Communicate

Put yourself in your boss’ shoes. If you were in charge, what kind of employee would you want? The quick answer: someone in whom you had confidence and about whom you never had to worry.

Although your boss isn’t your mother, there is one striking parallel between supervisors and parents: the more you tell them, the less they worry. By keeping your manager apprised of your progress and any related issues, you’ll be viewed as a problem-solver instead of a problem employee.

Determine how she wants to communicate. Does she prefer daily e-mails, weekly meetings, or monthly reports? Whatever she requests, make sure you deliver–on time. And don’t merely provide progress reports; also lay out any areas where you anticipate delays, especially if those delays will impact her ability to deliver something to her boss.

Don’t hide bad news from your supervisor, out of fear that it could make you look bad. The reverse is true; the sooner you can alert your boss to a potential problem, the more valuable you become–especially if you can suggest ways to mitigate any damage. Make it your practice never to point out a problem without following up with at least one reasonable solution.