Time for another important career-related question, answered by Sinead Brady of Career To Love.
There’s not a lot written on the skill of managing upwards, what’s your advice here when it comes to managing your managers’ expectations?
A topic not often mentioned or indeed written about. Managing your managers is a relationship that needs to be managed smartly and carefully. Follow these three steps to do just that.
1. Always Clarify – From the beginning of your working relationship establish exactly what is expected of you from your boss. At the end of a meeting quickly ask your manager ‘Just so I am clear and do the job correctly, is this what you need me to do ….’. Listen carefully and do exactly as you have been asked to do. If your boss is one of those people who ask for one thing and then expect something else. I suggest that you send a quick email asking her to confirm what she expects of you, this way everybody is clear about what to expect.
2. Be Clear about what you can and cannot do – There is nothing worse than someone taking on something that they cannot do and not asking for help. Manage your managers expectations by being professionally honest. If you are being asked to do a project or take part in something that you feel you cannot do because of lack of experience or knowledge be straight up about it. Go to your manager and quietly explain what you need help with.
Always start off by explaining what you can do. Be clear and concise. Then and only then begin to explain what you need help with, never say I cannot do it. Always suggest that you are willing to learn. You might want to say ‘I can do this part of the project we discussed earlier and I started working on it earlier. As I looked further into the project I realised that I am going to need help with parts of it. I haven’t done anything like this before and I would really appreciate your help to get my head around it’.
3. Get to know your Managers Work Style – By this I mean figure out what your manager’s work style is. Is she formal and organised in her approach to work, or is she informal and intuitive. Does she like to get updates in written format or does she prefer infographics with charts and visual representation, does she like to have a quick chat with you before getting a written report? Remember this is not a friendship, it is a professional working relationship and you are trying to manage your managers expectations. Detach your personal feelings from your professional role and consider the preferences about how she likes to work, if you can observe her patterns and what she reacts well to, it will make your work life a lot easier in terms of managing her expectations.
BY Sinead Brady