Having a healthy, positive work relationship with your boss is an indispensable career management tool. It can:
- increase your job satisfaction;
- provide stability during stressful times at work;
- enable you to resolve issues more quickly;
- create opportunities for you to take on new responsibilities, projects and challenges;
- put you in prime position for raises and promotions.
But there’s a fine line between anticipating your boss’s needs and stepping on his toes. So if you want to improve your relationship with your manager – and accelerate your career growth – use these tips to “manage up” the right way:
Get to know the person behind the title.
No, you don’t need to plan a weekend outing together. And you certainly don’t want to cross any lines when it comes to sharing personal information. It does make sense, however, to get to know your manager’s background, path to his current role, and lessons he’s learned along the way. When appropriate, share the same type of information about yourself. Getting to know one another in a more personal way helps strengthen trust, while providing opportunities for you to shape your boss’s perceptions of you in a positive way.
Understand his goals, work style and preferred methods of communication.
What is your manager trying to achieve? How and when does he get his best work done? Does he prefer in-person meetings or email for delegating tasks? Find out, and then adapt your behaviors and priorities accordingly. When you support your boss in his effort to achieve his own goals (in ways that complement his communication and work style), you position yourself as committed to the organization’s overall success. In you manager’s mind, that makes you appear more loyal, indispensable and an ally worthy of promotion.
Anticipate his needs.
Once you understand what your manager needs to achieve, look for ways to support his efforts. If he’s under a tight deadline, offer to handle some of his lower-priority tasks. If he has a high-profile meeting coming up, offer to aid in preparations. The key here is to ask what your boss needs – and not make assumptions. Doing so will ensure that your contributions are welcome – and not viewed as “stepping on his toes” or “sucking up.”
Don’t try to change him.
Your boss is human – with strengths, limitations and emotions just like you. While it may be tempting to try and fix his bad habits or quell his outbursts (especially if things aren’t going well), focus your energy on supporting his areas of strength. What does your boss do really well? How can you help him be even better at that? It’s far more beneficial to your career to make your boss look great internally than to try to change him.
Another great way to accelerate your career growth?