While all work relationships are important, there is arguably one that is most important. That is the relationship with your manager and it’s often overlooked. Sometimes this is referred to as “managing up” which is primarily concerned with how effectively you work with and can influence your manager.
What makes this relationship especially important? Your manager ultimately determines the types of projects and assignments that are on your plate. Additionally, your manager has influence on your career path and can help connect you to resources within the organization to help you reach your team’s goals.
Here are six keys to help you strengthen this relationship:
- Ensure you are clear regarding your manager’s expectations. The job description for your position may provide you with the formal performance requirements for your role, but your manager will likely have additional expectations. Have a discussion with your manager to ensure that you are aligned on the key measures of success, the priority initiatives to execute, and the principles and values that should be reflected in how you carry out your role.
- Get to know your manager. What communication style does your manager prefer? What is important to them, both personally and professionally? In what way do they want to receive information and updates from their team members? What types of things are a natural source of frustration for your manager? If you are aware of the answers, you will be better positioned to help your manager be successful.
- Look for the good. As humans, we have a natural tendency to be on the lookout for danger, which can cause us to focus on traits and attributes in managers that we don’t like. Even if your manager can be difficult to work with, focus on the things that your manager does well. Look for the opportunities to learn from your manager and acknowledge their contributions and support.
- Consider how you can adapt to your manager’s behavioral style. For example, let’s say that your manager is someone who drives for results and you are more of a process-oriented person. It would be important for you to learn how to present your ideas and other communication in a quick, high-level summary format.
- Make your manager look good. Doing something that reflects poorly on your manager is a quick route to damaging your relationship. What might you do to increase the level of trust, respect, and confidence that your manager has in you?
- Discover ways to free up time and reduce the hassles your manager deals with. Doing so allows your manager to focus on what’s most important and supports their success. So, take the initiative, be solution oriented, provide possible ideas for resolving issues that you must escalate. Be a leader!
The only behavior you can control is your own. Don’t leave the full responsibility for the relationship in your manager’s hands. Some managers are amazing at creating relationships with their team members. Others, not so much. Regardless of the type of manager you report to, being proactive in building a strong relationship with your manager will not only help their success, but also yours.
For more ideas about how to improve relationships and alignment up, down, and across your organization, contact us at Sherry@DutraAssociates.com.
Adapted with permission by Center for Executive Coaching