The Delicate Art of Managing Your Manager

Love them or loathe them, your manager has a significant impact on your day-to-day work and job satisfaction. Keeping them sweet is key if you’re going to progress in your career and enjoy what you do. So how can you manage your manager? It’s all about making their lives easier, and your life becoming easier as a result.

To start, change the way you think about them. Try to picture them as a resource rather than an overseer meting out the orders and discipline. They are, instead, there to assist you in doing your job – much of what they do behind the scenes makes your life simpler, whether you know it or not.

It’s important that you take your responsibilities seriously. You should always aim to meet and then exceed their expectations, overcoming any obstacles put in front of you (including by them). Come to your manager with solutions rather than problems and you’ll go up in their estimation, making the relationship more equal.

Having said you need to exceed their expectations, you also have to manage those expectations. Never over-promise. You have to be realistic about what you can do when they set an assignment, because nothing loses their confidence and trust quite like failure to deliver on your word.

Also on the trust front, never keep things from them. Even if you’re the bearer of bad news, it’s best to get it out in the open as quickly as possible before they discover it by another means. If you sit on it and are found out, you won’t come out of the situation in the best light.

Controversial as it may seem, being somewhat of a people-pleaser can be a good thing. If you make their life comfortable and enjoyable, they are likely to reciprocate and you won’t feel you’re being ‘managed’ so much as ‘guided’ in your work. Take an interest in their career, ask for their perspective on things and about their successes and experience.

Finally, make yourself indispensable to them. If you make yourself into their right-hand woman or man, you help them achieve their own success. When your boss is successful, it filters down. Ultimately, their job is to make you successful too, for your own good and that of the business. A boss who doesn’t appreciate that isn’t someone you want to work for – if that’s the case, it may be time to find a better boss.

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