How to manage your relationship with your boss


Managing up has a bad reputation.  It conjures images of overworked assistants trying to keep their department together while their manager disappears for another three-Martini lunch. In reality, it’s a great way to improve your relationship with your boss.

In fact, everyone can benefit from a little bit of managing up.”Even if you’re lucky enough to have a great boss, you can make things go a lot more smoothly by tuning in to the way that they like to work.  Don’t think of it as ass-kissing: it isn’t.  You’re just learning how your boss likes to work, so it’s easier for them to see how great you are.

1) Use their preferred communication style

Communication is key to an effective relationship with your boss

This is the biggest thing you can do to improve your relationship with your boss.  If your manager runs their life by email, then they probably don’t want you to visit their office unless the building is on fire.  Alternatively, if they’re unreliable about checking their messages, then you’ll need to find another way to get in touch with them.   Phone calls, texts, conversations in the corridor, Post-Its left with Sally on front desk – whatever your manager’s preferred style, try to use it.

2) Mimic their tone in emails

email address on LinkedIn
Managers tend to prefer employees who are similar to them, and the easiest way to impress your manager is to imitate the way they write. Full paragraphs?  Bullet-points?  Three lines, no full stops?  None of these email styles are inherently right or wrong, so follow your manager’s lead.  If they insist on typing everything in Comic Sans, or signing off with cat gifs, or saying “sorry” every three lines, then grit your teeth and limit it to internal communication.

3) Publicise your achievements

How to improve your non verbal communication

Smooth the path to promotion by making sure that your boss knows how hard you work. Check-in in with them regularly so they know what you’re working on – have a quick chat next to the coffee machine, or send a short email if you work remotely.  Don’t just tell them what was on your calendar yesterday (“What a day!  I had six meetings”), tell them what you actually achieved (“What a day!  I got three new suppliers’ quotes and finalised the venue for next year’s conference”).  In the long term, try to keep a log of your achievements at work.  This will be useful for your next annual review.

4) Ask for what you want

30216617 - what do you want handwritten on school blackboard
Sometimes, the easiest way to get what you want is to ask for it, whether it’s flexible hours or more responsibility.  Prepare your case carefully (use that achievements log!) and go to the meeting prepared.  Even if your manager has to turn down this request, you may find that they remember you when another opportunity comes around.

Need some coaching on your management style? Contact 3Plus now!

Alice Bell Contributor
"Alice writes online about business, popular science, and women's lifestyle. After a few years working her way around the world, she has settled in the north of England and taken a day job as a maths teacher. Her life's ambition is to earn enough money to start repaying her student debt."

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