13 Tips for Managing Your Manager

You Can Build a More Effective Relationship With Your Manager

Woman smiling while talking with her managers.

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Are you interested in tips on managing your manager? One of the most common employee complaints revolves around the quality of their management. Some people want more interaction, some want less attention, and many people want to be appreciated more by their manager.

Employees assume that the nature of this relationship is determined solely or mostly by the manager. In actuality, you can take steps to reshape this relationship with your manager in ways that will add to your job satisfaction. After all, you are the employee with the most to lose if this significant relationship is ineffective.

Consequently, you have the most to gain from managing your manager. You will want to use all thirteen of these tips to improve your relationship with your boss.

Solid Tips for Managing Your Manager

  1. You can take the initiative to inform your manager of your daily or weekly activities and accomplishments, whether asked or not. If your manager typically meets with you weekly, you have the opportunity to update the manager regarding your progress and accomplishments.
  2. If this is not standard practice in your organization, tell your manager that you’d like to meet with them periodically, and take the initiative to send meeting invitations.
  3. Managers appreciate a simple email executive summary or status report regarding projects you are working on. It will confirm in their mind that you are adding value and being productive. You can send this communication prior to your one-to-one meeting. This communication may also encourage a brief response that includes recognition for a job well done.
  4. These up-date communications will make it easier for your manager to pull together a positive performance review if your company uses them, or a salary increase recommendation when the time comes. They document your contributions in an ongoing manner that is easy to review.
  5. If your manager is a worrier or micro-manager, your reports may put them at ease, and eliminate some annoying questioning about your work, or their habit of hovering in your work area. Every manager wants to keep themselves in the loop as they are ultimately responsible for the work that their department contributes.
  6. For the same reason, you never want to blindside your manager. You don’t want your manager to learn about something you are doing — or didn't get done — from another manager or department.
  7. One of the best ways to establish the perception that you have a strong work ethic, and thus should be valued by your boss, is email. Time your email communications early in the morning, late in the evening, or on the weekend. This is especially critical if your office is not located close to your manager. Managers do form an opinion about your work ethic and contributions if all of your communication is from nine to five, Monday through Friday.
  8. Remember to thank your manager for their time, attention, coaching, and support. Just like employees feel that they don't receive much recognition and gratitude at work, so does your manager. It's just as much your job to express gratitude to them as it is theirs to appreciate you. The more the better.
  9. Most managers have a time when they are more relaxed and accessible. Get to know your manager’s rhythms and make yourself available for informal dialog at those times and in those places. Getting to know your manager as a person contributes toward a mutually beneficial relationship that can serve you both well.
  10. If you think your manager would be agreeable, consider asking them to lunch occasionally to build a stronger rapport. You might be surprised that they are flattered by your interest. If you think your manager would find this situation uncomfortable, ask them to join you and a coworker or two for lunch. Managers almost never turn down a small group lunch request. They know lunch won't be about your problems, needs, or wants when a group is present. 
  11. Try to stay tuned to your manager's stress level and determine when they are under pressure to produce. Volunteer to help with any emerging crises to relieve some of the pressure on them. Your loyalty will help to build a stronger bond with your manager.
  12. The stronger bond will earn your manager’s respect and support. You may even achieve a mentor or promoter/sponsor relationship. As a mentor, your boss can teach you from their experience. As a promoter, your boss can bring your name up when a promotion or plum assignment arises. After all, wouldn’t you like to promote people whom you know and trust?
  13. Take charge of your relationship with your manager. They have multiple responsibilities and concerns. Taking a few off of your manager’s full plate will build a strong working relationship and enrich your experience at work. It might even launch your successful career.