In an ideal world, your career progression and success would solely be determined by your ability to do your job well.
But although that’s a nice thought, many of us know that this isn’t how the world works. It’s also about managing your working relationships in order to build connections and progress.
Unfortunately, in most cases, if your manager doesn’t like you or see the value that you have to offer, then they just won’t put you forward for new opportunities.
Yes, it’s your manager’s job to manage you… but you’re also going to have to manage them, I’m afraid.
And by that I mean keeping them happy and showing them your best side, whilst maintaining your individuality and professionalism.
(No one likes a suck-up).
So, without further ado, here are some of our best tips for managing your manager.
1. Don’t get emotional.
We talk about this a lot in our careers advice blog – and it’s not because we’re unfeeling and ruthless. Everyone gets emotional from time to time.
But the thing is; it doesn’t put you in a strong position to impress people and to negotiate if and when necessary.
In a work environment, people want to focus on professional matters and they want professional reasons for doing things – not personal.
If you overshare and get emotional, they may think you’re a liability.
Brutal, but true.
If you need some help with managing your emotions in the workplace, check out this blog.
2. Communicate with them clearly
Resumes and job descriptions always drone on about communication skills, and there’s a good reason for it!
When you speak to your boss, whether orally or via email, get to the point and be concise. Make your meaning clear, and don’t imply things which may not be obvious.
A manager’s job is to receive information from you and your co-workers and then act accordingly. They don’t want to have to cut through the rubbish to work out what you mean. Make life easier for them and they will appreciate you.
For some tips on this, read this blog: How to Communicate Effectively at Work With Your Boss
3. Don’t be afraid to ask for help
Seriously, people need to stop being afraid to ask for help.
I personally would much prefer someone approached me and queried something, than they ploughed ahead and got it wrong.
It shows initiative if you’re willing to ask them for help, and it implies that you want to fulfil your duties without making mistakes in the process.
*Now I’m not saying you should ask about every, little, minute detail, because your boss will also want you to take initiative. If you can find the answer online, use it.
But when you’re unsure on the big stuff that matters, ask the question! Here’s how.
4. Be honest with your opinions
Again, be brave! A good manager will want to hear your opinion.
If you disagree with a decision that your boss is about to make, politely inform them of your opinion and objections, perhaps suggesting an alternative.
Sometimes, people just don’t consider things from a different perspective and therefore things slip through the cracks. But your boss will want to know if that is the case, before they move forward.
With that said, if they decide to ignore your suggestions, make sure you are professional and stay on track with the project at hand.
It’s not that they don’t appreciate you, they may just have more experience/ understanding in this case, but they’ll still appreciate your opinion (if given politely and professionally).
5. Don’t hide mistakes
Managers want to know what’s going on – they don’t like surprises (good or bad).
If you have some bad news about your work or your department’s work and you need to tell your boss, don’t wait until the last minute to tell them.
Give them plenty of time to manage the situation (that’s what they’re there for).
This will give you a much more reliable reputation than withholding information.
6. Try to come up with solutions, not just problems
That said – it’s important that you don’t just run to your boss with problems all the time. They’ll begin to wonder what you’re there for, except to cause them pain.
When you approach your manager with an issue, try to be armed with a list of possible solutions and suggestions moving forward.
This will make you seem like a problem-solver, rather than starter!
7. Don’t make false promises
Although you might want to take on loads of work and look like a great employee, you shouldn’t promise things if you can’t deliver them.
Making false promises and taking on too much work is only going to lead to disaster and a strained relationship between you and your boss; it’s much better to be realistic and not disappoint them.
Set expectations and smash those expectations, rather than looking like you’ve failed all the time because you’re behind on work.
8. Show that you’re serious about your job
We’re not saying that you should be super serious with no sense of humour, but showing your manager that you take your job seriously is a great way to build a positive rapport with them.
If you appear disinterested and disengaged when it comes to your job and spend a lot of time messing around and joking, your manager may start to wonder.
It’s ok to have fun – as long as you get the job done.
9. Be loyal
Honestly, one of the worst things you can do is betray your manager at a workplace, even if they are a pain in the bum.
If it gets to the point where you feel the need to get other people involved, think carefully before doing so.
Is it really that bad?* Will the other person/ manager be able to do anything? Or is it just time to look for a new job?
You have to remember that once you’ve gone through with this, you may have to carry on working with your boss… and they’re certainly not going to look at you in a very good light at that point.
*Obviously in extreme circumstances (for example, a safeguarding issue), you should always go to a senior member of staff.
10. Prepare, prepare, prepare
If you’re heading into a meeting with your manager, you’d better make sure that you know what you’re talking about.
If you appear to be underprepared, your boss is inevitably going to be skeptical about you.
Walking into a management meeting fully prepared is the best way to paint yourself in a good light and look great in your boss’s eyes.
I hope you found these tips for managing your manager useful!
Although all managers have different management styles and temperaments, we think that most of these tips should help you to construct a positive relationship and see future progression as a result.
However, sometimes it’s just not meant to be – and sometimes you might just get a bad manager; someone who holds you back for one selfish reason or another.
In that case, I highly recommend you start looking for a new job.
Or even a new career altogether.
If you’d like more careers advice like this, please feel free to subscribe to our blog.