|This is a topic people sometimes feel uncomfortable with. But there is no reason to! The fundamentals of every relationship, personal or professional require some form of managing. Great workplace relationships require boundaries, effort and a give and take from all parties. Meaning, it is not a one one-way street, especially for assistants and their executives. In essence, managing your manager is no different to any other important relationship and requires transparency and trust.
The big question, is, how? To start put yourself in your manager’s shoes. What do they need to achieve and what do they value as important? This will provide you with a better understanding of the way they think and the actions they take. Having a clear picture of their needs and priorities will help you ascertain what keeps them awake at night, the deadlines, targets or simply what is at the top of their priority list right now (which of course shifts and changes all the time). Armed with that information you can take steps to help. The more stress you alleviate and time you free up for them, the better they will perform, and the more professional you both look!
Asking questions is a must! But choose the time wisely. As they are about to step into a board meeting probably isn’t the best moment! The type of questions will vary depending on individual relationships but go beyond, ‘what else can I help with?’ Ask specifics like, what is your biggest concern now? Or what major goals do we need to achieve this week? You will always glean nuggets of information this way, and sometimes even the smallest action makes a big impact.
The eyes and ears of the office. Unofficially we often find ourselves in this position. Some of this (certainly not all!) information is critical for you to share with your boss at an appropriate time. It isn’t telling tales or being nosey, it is quietly keeping them abreast of how the team is coping, and any problems on the horizon. These details assist in managing their team members. Relevant information helps to pre-empt issues and the more you can help your manager in these areas, the better the whole team performs. Subtle reminders of team birthdays, major events happening in team members lives or other key facts, will quickly make you indispensable and your boss shine in their role.
Observation. One of the key points in expertly managing your manager is observation. The more you notice about their working style and preferred communication the more successful the relationship will be. One area to focus on is their daily patterns. Are they an early riser or a night owl, do they block out certain times of the day for activities whether that is personal like the gym, or professional such as reviewing documents. It will help to tailor your support for them. Also, to keep in mind, your actions and communication directly impact your manager’s reputation. Knowing this will help you to convey the right message if your manager is not available. Do they want it known they are at the gym, lunch, meeting with the Chair, reading documents?
Feedback. It is important to remember you are integral to the success of your manager. In being that key person, you need to always be growing and developing, which means being open to feedback and taking direction. Don’t be afraid to ask for feedback. Open and honest communication is important. Without transparent conversations it is hard to develop a true connection.
Records. In today’s digital world, communication moves at lightning speed, and with that, it becomes easier and easier for action points, deadlines, or even meetings to slip through the cracks. Work out a system that works for you and your boss to keep track of all activities, discussions and follow up points so that nothing is missed. This could be an end of day update email, or shared online to-do list, whatever process works for you, make sure you both agree to it and then ensure you both stick to it!
Managing your manager is an ever-evolving skill, and one that can always be improved, but the more you work at it, the more aware you become of its importance and the bigger the impact you can have on, not only your boss’s life but also your own professional development.
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Workplace Trends 2024 – an interview with Roxanne Calder on the TODAY show.
Rox was delighted to join the TODAY Show team to discuss the top workplace trends for 2024.
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