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Managing Your Manager: The Do’s & Don’ts

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Most everyone in a company has a manager or someone they report to. Let’s face it, your manager has a lot of control over your day-to-day happiness and long-term growth whether you like them or not.

This is why managing your manager is essential. Having a great relationship with your boss is critical to ensure your success and your happiness at work. However, a majority of the professionals I encounter say they could benefit from a better relationship with their boss.

It got me thinking and asking myself – is it that hard to build a relationship with your manager where they think highly of you, advocate for you, and are actively trying to advance your career? The answer is no. Follow my top 5 do’s and don’ts and you’ll be on your way to establishing a more successful relationship with your boss which will, in turn, elevate your personal growth and career.


1) Clear Communication
Ahh, clear communication. A seemingly simple task yet we all find ways to overcomplicate this. Let me break it down for you – always speak up if you’re confused, misinformed, need help, or have questions about any aspect of your work. You may have concerns, frustration, or a complaint – voice it! Just make sure to do so in a positive manner. Clearing up miscommunication or turning your concerns into suggestions will help you grow and get you closer to what you’re trying to accomplish not only personally but also with your manager.

2) Empathize with your manager
Your boss isn’t a boss 24/7. Meaning, they are real people too. As much as they may frustrate you, do things that really annoy you, remember that they are under pressure from their boss, their own personal lives, and have to make hard decisions – knowing that everyone is not always going to be happy with the outcome. If you’re feeling the pressure at work, surely your boss is experiencing the same if not more. Try to put yourself in their shoes and always assume what they decide or are doing is with positive intent.

3) Present Solutions, Not Problems
Unfortunately, when you add stress to stress they don’t cancel each other out. Multiply your problems by the number of people on your team and you’ll realize the endless amount of issues your boss is dealing with on a daily basis. Want to be a stellar employee? First, identify what problems you can handle on your own and which ones you should loop your boss in on. When presenting the problems make sure it’s not when your boss just got chewed out by higher-ups but in relatively good head space. Secondly, accompany the problems with suggested solutions. Remember, you want your direct manager to look at you in a positive light and not as the actual problem in the office.

4) Acknowledge your Manager
Who appreciates positive feedback? The answer is EVERYONE. Even your manager. In fact, especially your manager. More times than not the focus that’s put on managers is geared towards “How do we get better” or “How can we sell more” rather than acknowledging how they helped you overcome an obstacle that day. They chose management for a reason and reassuring them that they are helping and motivating you to do your job better is important to them.

5) Be a Leader
Every manager wants to be looked at positively and as the person who “made a difference” – especially by senior management. When they have an employee who takes the initiative in helping their boss spread the word about all the accomplishments the team is having it reflects on them. Be involved with your team, share your wins, and help with losses. Your boss will appreciate you going above and beyond your role and shows that you care not only about yourself but their success as well.

6) Support them
If you want to better your relationship or cultivate a strong bond with your manager you must understand what your boss cares about and support them. Try taking your manager’s side or see their point of view whenever possible. The greatest teammates take their co-worker’s and manager’s point of view before they take their own.


7) Focus on the No’s
Research shows that bad experiences with people are often times stronger than good ones. Don’t count all the negative versus positive moments with your boss or how many times they’ve told you “no” versus “yes.” It’s human nature to compare yourself to others but try not to do that with other employees or think that your manager “likes them more than me.” It’s a waste of your time and energy. Focus on your work and how you can achieve your goals and help in accomplishing the team’s work.

8) Be an instigator
It’s hard in the heat of the moment to not join in on gossiping with everyone in the office. Especially, if everyone is doing it. This isn’t high school anymore, this is grown-up world. Don’t instigate conversations about your boss with others unless it’s positive.

9) Act on emotions
This is probably my favorite and took me the longest to learn. I have a 24-hour rule that if something strikes me wrong or really works me up, It’s best I don’t respond and step away for 24 hours so i’m not acting on pure emotion. Thinking things through won’t have you looking back at that cringe-worthy email the next day and set you up for better relationships and success at work.

10) Be shy
Don’t be shy about asking for help, advice, or feedback when it pertains to your work. Especially, if it’s something you haven’t done before. Being able to acknowledge that you need help is a powerful characteristic and your boss will admire you taking the initiative to want to learn more about your role and work.

11) Take it personally
When your boss is being a pain, don’t take it personally. Most managers don’t know how to manage their stress and who can blame them since most people in life don’t know either. Obviously, don’t allow yourself to be abused at work but if your boss snaps at you don’t blacklist them or label them or yourself as a bad person. Neither is true. Realize that work is stressful and it’s not because of who you are but simply because you caught them at a bad time.

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