Mastering the Art of Managing Your Manager: Building a Productive Relationship

Introduction: In the business world, we have become accustomed to receiving guidance and direction from our managers. However, another skill, often lesser-known but important nonetheless is the ability to manage up. That is manage your manager.

At first glance, it might sound counterintuitive at first, but cultivating a positive and collaborative relationship with them can significantly impact your professional growth, development, and overall job satisfaction and happiness at work.

This article explores the art of managing your manager. With practical tips on how you can navigate this delicate dynamic and foster a productive working relationship. All being said are good for us, good for the team and the organisation.

Communication is Key: it is the foundation of any successful organisation or successful relationship.

Clear, concise and open communication is vital. This relationship is no different.  Regularly scheduled one-on-one meetings can help bridge the communication gap and offer a platform to discuss work-related matters, concerns, and progress. Be proactive in seeking feedback, and ensure you provide updates on your projects or tasks without micromanagement.

Understand Their Goals and Priorities: To manage your manager effectively, you must first understand their goals and priorities. Aligning your objectives with theirs will demonstrate your commitment to the overall success of the team and the business. Take the time to understand their vision and preferred communication style, adapting your approach accordingly.

Anticipate Their Needs:  this can be a subtle yet impactful way to show your dedication and professionalism. Pay attention to recurring patterns, anticipate upcoming challenges, and be ready with potential solutions. This proactive attitude not only streamlines workflow but also showcases your reliability and resourcefulness.

Be Respectfully Assertive: managing your manager doesn’t mean becoming a “yes” person. It’s crucial to express your opinions, concerns, or suggestions respectfully. Constructive criticism, when presented tactfully, can lead to positive changes and encourage an open exchange of ideas.

Be solution focused: do not be tempted to constantly present ‘problems’ to your manager. When problems, questions or challenges arise, present them with solutions and ideas to solve the challenge. Do not expect your manager to ‘spoon-feed’ you. It is neither helpful, productive nor developmental to you.

Deliver Results, Not Excuses: consistently delivering quality work and meeting deadlines are essential aspects of managing your manager. Take ownership of your tasks and be accountable for the outcomes. If you encounter obstacles, focus on finding solutions rather than making excuses.

Build Trust and Mutual Respect: this is a big one. Trust is the foundation of any successful professional relationship. Building trust with your manager involves being reliable, honest, and transparent. Avoid gossip or office politics, and instead, strive to create a positive and supportive work environment.

Learn from Feedback: receiving feedback from your manager might not always be easy, but it is crucial for growth and improvement. Embrace constructive feedback with an open mind, view it as an opportunity for development, and implement the suggested changes.

Manage Up, Not Just Down: managing your manager is not a one-way street. It also involves supporting and assisting them in their role. Offer your help on projects, take on additional responsibilities, and demonstrate that you are a valuable asset to the team.

Conclusion: managing your manager requires finesse, tact, and genuine effort. By fostering effective communication, understanding their goals, and being proactive and respectful, you can build a strong and productive working relationship.

Remember, managing up not only benefits your career but also enhances the overall efficiency and harmony within the workplace. Embrace this often-overlooked skill, and you’ll find yourself well-equipped to navigate the business landscape with confidence and success.

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