The Art of Managing your Manager – Business Etiquette

Having a great relationship with your manager/supervisor is essential towards enhancing your career, corporate image, business etiquette and making your work environment pleasurable. Always try and see yourself and your manager as a team and aim to work towards a mutual win-win relationship.

Moving up your career path can often depend on whether you can manage your manager rather than whether your manager is good at managing you. Learn the skill of “Managing your manager” by following these simple steps:

What type of Manager do you have?

Be adaptable – there will be times where you will need to change your work style to accommodate your manager’s style of working.

The perfectionist manager– requires order, dislikes interruptions, requires frequent progress updates, very involved in the detail, likes to control all aspects of task at hand. Solution…breathe – allow them to scrutinise your progress and work until they are satisfied and have built up trust in you.
The volatile manager – prone to outbursts when under stress. Solution…Be assertive, don’t become emotional and don’t take it personally. Wait till he/she has calmed down and then explain, or help facilitate a solution. However, be careful of allowing them to cross personal boundaries, being bullied or letting them use insulting language.
The never around manager expects you to take the ball and run with it. Solution: Put yourself in their shoes – how would they handle that challenge, situation? Communicate often but quickly. Have very clear and concise requests to get the answers you require to do your job efficiently.
Many times you will have a mix of the above and then you need to have enough savvy to combine strategies.

15 ways to create a win-win situation:

1. Explain how you’re best “managed.” Help your manager understand how he can help you do your best work.
2. If you feel your manager might be making an incorrect decision (maybe he does not have all the facts), suggest a better alternative. However, once she has made the decision, stop second-guessing and do your best to implement it— regardless of whether you agree.
3. Be consistent and keep your promises. This builds trust – send the email when you said you would, make the phone call when you promised, have the report ready before the deadline.
4. Show initiative, save your manager time by anticipating what he/she needs.
5. Keep them informed about goings on in your area, other parts of the company, the industry and competitors.
6. It is important to be seen as someone who delivers and goes the extra mile. To achieve this drop, delay or delegate anything non–urgent if a crisis is looming.
7. If there is underlying tension or hidden conflicts, raise them before the situation explodes.
8. Stop complaining about things that you nor your manager have the control to change. If you bring up a problem – have a solution in mind.
9. Ask for feedback on your completed tasks. Instantly act on a solution if the comments are negative.
10. Keep your manager updated on your latest achievements, courses attended etc.
11. Never disagree with him/her in front of others, unless they have specifically asked for your opinion.
12. If you feel you have unintentionally embarrassed him/her in front of others, apologise immediately. In this way you minimise the risk of them loosing their trust in you.
13. It is positive to show ambition, but take care not to make your manager feel threatened. “I can’t wait to have your job one day” is unlikely to be viewed enthusiastically.
14. Having a manager means they get to delegate, probably the stuff they hate doing! Accept these tasks with positive body language and a smile. Remember “ Your attitude determines your altitude”.
15. If you work for the same person for a long period you tend to fall into established patterns. Take time to regularly asses how you work together. Discuss if your roles and experience has changed and whether you could do things differently.


Essential Principles …
• Discretion is the key. Ascertain how open you can be about certain subjects – they are your superior after all not your best friend, so keep a professional distance.
• Never gossip or bad mouth your manager – it will always get back to them, to your detriment.
• If you work for a manager of a different gender keep remarks of a personal nature to a minimum “Have you been working out?” might be perceived as flirtatious.
• Try and end all discussions with your manager on a positive note.
• It is vital that he/she is aware of your personal goals and aspirations – in order to be able to motivate you. Your goals need to be aligned with your personal values.
• If you feel you need training in a certain area e.g. assertiveness – let him/her know.

Your manager probably has more knowledge and experience than you at this point. See them as a valuable resource of information and connections for your career path. By observing and learning from them you will ensure your own personal growth.

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