Do you manage your manager?

As recruiters, our days are filled with listening to why candidates are looking for a new job. There are the obvious motivations; seeking better work/life balance, lack of progression opportunities and seeking better remuneration, and then there are the taboo reasons.  Let’s face it, a lot of the time people start to look for a new job because they don’t get on with their boss or have had some kind of work barney. In our opinion, this seems like an unnecessary reason to leave a job or to be losing talent, particularly when we are operating in a candidate short market.

The irony is, so often these types of disputes or misunderstandings can easily be address by simply managing upwards. For those who aren’t familiar with this phrase, it refers to the process of subordinates managing their managers (in a sense).

By allowing employees to have an open dialogue regarding their role, whether it’s about frustrations at work or challenges they are facing, it enables the manager to address issues much earlier and perhaps help solve them before they spin out of control.

A good example of a profession that has mastered the art of upward management is the personal assistant job. For many of those in PA jobs or EA jobs, it is vital that they build a strong rapport with the personal they are assisting. By understanding their boss’s style, pressures, goals, priorities and preferred way of working, they avoid conflict or confusion in the workplace.

Here are 6 questions to help you work out if you are currently managing upwards effectively.

  • Do you understand your boss?

Tip: By learning your manager’s preferences, you will be better placed to adapt your working style to fit their personality and character. Consider things like are they extravert or introvert, what their preferred meeting style is (formal catch-ups or informal chats), how they like to communicate (email or in person) and so on.

  • Do you communicate objectively?

Tip: Removing emotion and bias when communicating will ensure your manager has all the facts and can make an objective assessment.

  • Do you problem solve effectively?

Tip: Always consider whether or not you can solve the particular problem without involving your manager and whether it’s the right decision for the business. Reducing their involvement in unnecessary problem solving will ensure you get the assistance you need when the time really does arise.

  • Do you follow up on commitments?

Tip: Ensure that if you ever commit to doing something for your manager, you follow through, no matter how large or small the ask. This will build trust and also show that you can handle the responsibility you’ve been given.

  • Do you provide options?

Tip: Many work frustrations come from a difference in opinion. By supplying various options to your manager you enable them to make the best decision in their eyes not yours.

  • Do you admit when you’ve made a mistake?

Tip: By simply admitting you’ve made a mistake and supplying possible solutions, you build credibility and trust with your manager rather than damaging the working relationship.