When we think about management, we might think about how our own manager manages us.
We often overlook the fact that we also need to manage our relationship with them too. Leadership isn’t just a top-down approach, it is also from the bottom up and this is where you can play your part.
Your relationship with your manager is the single most important one in your working life. It makes sense then to consider how you can work more effectively with them for the best possible outcome.
1. Get to know your boss
Make the effort to get to know and understand your manager’s approach to work. Whether it’s the way in which they prefer to communicate, what their goals for the business are, and their distinct management style. Taking the time to observe how your manager functions is the key here. You want to be able to align your activity and actions with your managers. This will enable the best possible results for you and the business.
2. Identify problematic areas
In any relationship, there are always things that annoy us or things we disagree with. Paying attention to these can often be more important than what we align on, as they provide opportunity for growth. Acknowledging pain points will help you identify areas where you can consider adapting the way you approach any problems. For example, if your manager is often unavailable when you need them, ask them ask if you can communicate in a different way. Identifying the unchangeable and the potentially changeable helps you focus on what is manageable going forward.
3. Be a problem solver
Problem solving is a great way to effectively manage your relationships. It gives you the chance to show initiative and eliminates the need for your manager to be constantly resolving everyone’s issues. Don’t go into a meeting with your boss with a list of problems. Instead, go armed with solutions. ‘This is not working,’ should become, ‘perhaps we could do this to improve.’ By presenting solutions rather than problems, you’re more likely to elicit a positive response from your boss. You’re also developing your skillset and demonstrating a commitment to the business.
4. Set boundaries
Working more effectively with your manager isn’t about sacrificing your own time or health to the benefit of the business. Know your boundaries regarding your own work ethics and the value you bring to the business. If, for example, your manager expects you to work most weekends or evenings, or you’ve been assigned to a project where expectations aren’t clear, discuss your concerns in advance. Doing so in a respectful, calm, and professional manner will ensure everyone is aware of the potential limitations, and solutions can be found up front.
5. Be accountable
It is okay to say sorry. Being honest and accountable is a much better strategy for managing the expectations of your boss. Lying or being evasive often means possible issues are not resolved quickly enough, often to the detriment of the business. The bottom line here is that we all slip up from time to time, so it’s much better to raise your hand, apologise and move on. By doing this, you’re demonstrating accountability and actively managing the relationship by owning your actions.
Reframing your relationship with your boss as one that you actively manage can shift you from passenger to driver. It requires thought, strategy, and active participation daily. It also enables you to think and function as part of a partnership, acknowledging the collaboration that’s needed for good leadership. By knowing how to effectively work with your manager, you’ll be building a great relationship with healthy boundaries that helps move your career forward.