Monday, May 4, 2009

Takin' Care of Business: Managing Your Manager

This is the eighth in a ten part series called, Takin’ Care of Business – Making Work Work for You.

Sure, you know who’s boss. And when I talk about managing your manager, I don’t mean secretly plotting to take her job or developing some sinister plan to make him look like an idiot. Managing your manager is the process of making your needs known and developing a relationship with him that will allow you to do your job more effectively.

At the heart of the matter, managers are people. As such, they have different personalities and styles. The first step in managing your manager is recognizing her style. Is she a micro-manager or more of a hands-off type? Once you have a handle on the style, then you can figure out how you want to communicate with them. And communication is key.

A micro-manager needs to have their hand in the pot at all times– even though you might be the one doing the stirring. Since you know they always need to know what’s going on, you will want to communicate with them regularly – probably more than you think is necessary. As progress is made and you hit your milestones, let your manager know – even before she asks. If decisions need to be made, clue him in on what you are doing. Sometimes it can be as simple as cc’ing him on an email thread.

For the hands-off manager, you still want to keep them in the loop too. A weekly email or touch base meeting is a good way to let them know what you are doing and how you are progressing with your work. It doesn’t have to be long and involved but just something to let them know what you’ve been up to.

Communication also becomes critical when your plate is getting particularly full. Often managers assign work without thinking about exactly how much work you already have or how much work it will take to complete the assignment. In this case, when your plate is full, it is perfectly fine to ask your manager, which project has the priority. Let them know what tasks you have in front of you and when you expect to have them done. Then, ask them which project needs to be completed first?

If you don’t ask, you are assuming and you know what happens when you assume. You don’t want to devote your time and energy to Project A only to find out Project B or Project C was more important.
Finally, make your needs known. If you need more information or if your boss needs to do something for you, then let them know exactly what is required of them and by when. If you cannot complete your work until your boss authorizes overtime or approves some additional expenses, then make your needs known.

Knowing your boss and communicating effectively with her can go a long way to alleviating your stress and making your job a lot easier.

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