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Helping Your Manager Manage You

A positive relationship with your boss facilitates your professional life and allows you to produce at a higher level. Discover how you can smooth your relationship with your manager.

April 17, 2008
from Accountemps

In the course of your career, you're bound to encounter a manager whose personality and working style doesn't quite mesh with your own. You may not be able to redesign such a boss to your own specifications, but you can adapt to your manager's ways of doing things. All it takes is remembering that bosses are not necessarily bad bosses just because of different communication styles or occasional frustrations they may display. With some understanding and attention, you'll learn how to create a good working association.

A positive relationship with your manager facilitates your professional life and allows you to consistently produce at a higher level. What's more, your mental outlook will improve, because life is easier at the office.

It's worth a little effort to build a connection between you and your manager. A manager's job is, after all, to manage. And the more effectively you are able to work with your boss, the easier you make it for your boss to manage you and maximize your contributions. You'll both benefit: Your boss will feel more comfortable with you, so you'll gain increased access to your boss's time. Here are a few ways you can smooth your relationship, improve communication, and in effect, help your manager do his or her job.

Take on Your Boss's Priorities

You go out of your way to meet clients' needs and accommodate them. Why would you not do the same thing for your manager? After all, you're both on the same team — you should have the same goals. Your manager gets direction from above, based on the firm's long-term strategy. If there is a current push to reduce costs, for example, that should be your emphasis, too. In practical terms, that tells you that proposing an expensive project would be out of place for now. A better approach would be to look for ways to streamline spending.

Become aware of your boss's primary concerns, and be ready to meet them. Think ahead and envision ways you can contribute to those goals. Offer your assistance in specific ways.

Adapt to Your Boss's Communication Preference

People differ in the ways they absorb information. Some people have an easier time with oral communication — if they hear something, it makes sense to them, but they have a hard time reading it. Others learn better if they see something in writing. Your manager is one of these two types — figure out which, and use that method primarily to deliver your messages.

Maybe you like instant messaging, but your boss is used to the telephone. You might like a face-to-face chat, but many managers can't afford the time. In written communication, some want a full explanation of the topic at hand, whereas others prefer a one-page summary with bullet points. Learn what makes your boss feel more comfortable and adopt that method. You'll go a long way toward putting both of you on the same "page."

Get to Know Your Boss's Personal Style

Your manager may have personal quirks that puzzle or annoy you. For instance, you may view a closed office door as a message that says, "Go away — I'm too busy to see you." Don't jump to conclusions. Perhaps your boss is simply able to concentrate better with the door closed, and expects people to knock if they have an important question. Simply ask if that's true. If it is, instead of feeling ignored, you'll be rewarded with more access to your manager. If you find that a closed door means "do not disturb," you'll have to respect that request, but at least now you won't take it personally.

Another way to view what you interpret as your boss ignoring you is to consider the possibility that this behavior is actually a compliment. You might be so reliable that your boss doesn't feel a need to micromanage every thing you do. If you need more direct reassurance, when the time is right, ask your manager in general how you are doing and what you might do to improve.

Remember Your Boss Is Only Human

Try to take into account your manager's personality. A volatile boss is hard to deal with, but if that's just the way your boss is at times, you'll have to learn to adapt. Your manager could be under stress, not only on the job, but at home as well. If your boss seems abrupt, unless it's a daily pattern, consider that maybe there is particular pressure coming from above at that time. Everyone has a bad day once in a while, and your boss is not immune. Don't take it personally. When you understand that your boss is human, too, you'll get along better. This is yet another reason to try to better understand your manager's priorities — and frustrations.

Throughout your professional life, it's important to develop positive working relationships with your managers. A productive association will lead to better results for your boss's department. And when you make supervisors look good, you'll look good to them as well.

Accountemps is one of the world's first and largest temporary staffing service specializing in the placement of accounting, finance and bookkeeping professionals. The company has more than 360 offices in North America, South America, Europe and the Asia-Pacific region, and offers online job search services at http://www.accountemps.com.